Monday, November 9, 2009

Spirit of the Law chapter 72:21

21) [Discusses proper way to do hatmanah, cover something in a davar hamosif hevel, material that increases the natural heat of the cooked object. The most prevalent example of this in our times is covering a pot that is on the stove from before Shabbos. It may not be covered completely on all sides. Instead one must leave one side exposed. This side should be covered with a board or the like which will ensure that there is space between any other covering and the pot on the fire. One then covers this board with old clothes which keep in the warmth.]
The Mekor Chaim explains that something which increases heat refers to lashon hara which makes a person feel “under fire,” filling his heart with feelings of resentment and anger. Although it is absolutely forbidden to listen to lashon hara unnecessarily, there are times, when this is permitted. For example, when one listens in order to protect himself or his fellow man from harm.
But, even if this is truly the reason why one allows himself to be exposed to what usually increases fire, he must be very vigilant that this merely galvanizes him to act as if this is true to ensure that he or his friend are not damaged by a potential fraud and the like. But we are not permitted to allow the natural heat to touch us “on all sides,” that is to believe the lashon hara, absolutely. We must separate ourselves from what we are being told.
But of course it is human nature to either get riled up about what we are told, and deal with it, or to apathetically disbelieve it entirely. How are we to act on what we are told, and yet not hate the person spoken about? The way to do this is to separate ourselves from being enticed to hate the other party, while at the same time believing what we are told just enough to suspect the possibly guilty party and act in a protective way.
We do this by separating ourselves from the lashon hara with a board, which we cover with clothes. In our context this alludes to reframing what the person allegedly did, until we understand that there are many ways to see how he is not really responsible for his actions. Perhaps he does not understand or he is in great pain and can hardly control his impulses. In this manner his actions are seen in a very different light, since one has placed him in different spiritual garments even if he actually did the forbidden deed.
But we can only do this through living the Mishnah: “Do not judge your friend until you have come to his place.” Rebbe Nachman of Breslov explains that since no mortal can ever really be entirely in another’s place, this Mishnah teaches us never to stand in judgment on the actions of another person. Even if we see the bad actions we must never condemn another person absolutely.
Only Hashem can truly know who is really responsible for his actions and can determine what are the proper measures to deal with such a person.

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