Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Words of the Wise

Blogger yitz from Hechal Haneginah brought the following great story in his comment on "Don't Push" down below.
Once there was a large crowd at the Tish of Rebbe Yechezkel of Kuzmir, a contemporary of the Vorker Rebbe. The Rebbe noticed that there was one foolish man pushing his way into the entire crowd, disturbing them all. He quoted the verse in Mishlei/Proverbs 27:22, "If you crush the fool in a mortar...his foolishness will not leave him." Did you ever see a fool crushed in a mortar? he noted. That's for crushing peppercorns, not fools!
He answered that even though "the reward of a gathering is the crowded quarters," the fool, even if he will push his way around the crowd, will not be affected by the [holiness of the] gathering, and his folly will not depart from him. This story is brought in the sefer Divrei Yisrael, by the first Modzitzer Rebbe, who was the Kuzmirer's grandson.

This great story reminded me of another penetrating lesson of Rav Yechezkal of Kozmir:
Rav Yechezkel of Kozhmir, zt”l, once offered important guidance in rendering halachic decisions. “When you think about it, the process of halachah appears perplexing at times. For example, very often we find that while the Shulchan Aruch permits something, the Ramoh can be stringent. Is it possible that one has permitted that which is truly forbidden? Could it be that that one or the other actually ate traifos, for example? The truth, however, is as we say, that ‘these and those are the words of the living G-d.’ There are many possible interpretations of the law, but the actual halachah depends on the sages of each and every generation. And what determines what the halachah really is? The speech of the chachomim. Each sage’s word made the object or action in question permitted or prohibited. It is his words that reveal the ratzon Hashem for that particular question, in that particular place, and that particular moment in time. Accordingly, a moreh hora’ah must use his faculty of speech very carefully and make certain never to abuse it. Every word he speaks should be in absolute holiness and purity!”

When the Divrei Yisrael, zt”l, recounted this advice he would comment, “This explains the fact that halachic precedent doesn’t necessarily follow the greatest scholar’s opinion. Sometimes the halacha follows the lesser scholar because his speech is more pure than the greater scholar’s. This can be understood from the Gemara in Kesuvos 22a which states: ‘The mouth that prohibited is the mouth that permitted.’ This can also be read differently. ‘It is the mouth that permits. It is the mouth that prohibits.’ In order for the words of the contemporary scholar to become halacha they must be spoken by a mouth that is holy and pure. It is the worthy mouth alone that permits and prohibits!”

1 comment:

yitz said...

Thanks for the appreciation! I've linked to this post on my blog as well.