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“These are the garments that they shall make … a robe …” (Shemos 28:4)

The Talmud (Eruchin 16a) explains that the me’il (robe) of the Kohen Gadol atones for lashon hara, as Hashem says: Let something that produces sound (the bells of the me’il) atone for an act of sound, i.e. lashon hara. The Torah instructs that the robe should be made of techeiles (a special blue wool), and our sages explain that its color reminds one of the sea, which is suggestive of the Heavens, which prompts one to recall the Throne of Glory, where the person will be judged in the future.


The Tanna D’Bei Eliyahu writes that the transgression of lashon hara is so egregious that it immediately ascends to the Throne of Glory, as it says (Tehillim 73:9), “They set their mouth against Heaven, and their tongue walks on earth.”

The Chofetz Chaim cites the Talmud (Chullin 89a), which says that the world endures only in the merit of one who restrains himself during a quarrel, as it says (Iyov 26:7), “Hashem suspends the earth upon nothingness,” i.e. the person keeps his mouth closed when he is provoked. Furthermore, says the Chofetz Chaim, one should shield himself and exercise caution at all times when speaking in order to guard himself from questionable or forbidden speech. He compares it to a soldier who wears armor to protect himself so that he is not harmed by fired artillery. The Chofetz Chaim notes that, in fact, disputes and arguments escalate into physical altercations and full-blown controversies only because people do not guard their mouth and remain silent, as it says (Shemos 21:18),If men quarrel and one strikes his fellow …”

R’ Yitzchak Blazer points out that Hashem has given man two protective walls to help him guard his speech – a wall of porcelain, i.e. his teeth, and a wall of flesh, i.e. his mouth – and one must know when to keep those walls closed.

The pomegranates and bells which alternately encircled the bottom of the robe’s hem (Shemos 28:34) are additional references to man’s speech. The Talmud (Chulin 89a) cites R’ Yitzchak, “What is the meaning of the pasuk (Tehillim 58:2), Ha’umnam eilem tzedek tedaberun meisharim tishpetu bnei adam – Do you indeed (ha’umnam) speak as a righteous people (eilem)? Do you judge the sons of men with equity (meisharim)?’” and interprets it as follows: What should be a person’s occupation (umanut) in this world? He should make himself silent (eilem). One might think that he should not speak even with regard to words of Torah, mitzvos or chesed. Therefore, the pasuk says, “speak as a righteous people,” i.e. one should speak words of Torah. The bells which have sound allude to the voices of Torah; the pomegranates allude to that speech which should be silenced, either because it is inappropriate or it is lashon hara. If one conducts himself in this way, then as the pasuk says (28:35), “his sound shall be heard when he enters the Sanctuary before Hashem ….” The prayers of the Kohen Gadol and the Jewish people will ascend and be accepted, and they will be blessed.

The Tzafnas Panei’ach notes that before a person speaks, he owns every word. Once the words leave his mouth, he no longer rules over them. Similarly, when one says divrei Torah he should make sure that he is not motivated to speak in order to promote himself or to gain advantage over his friend. One should always pause before speaking in order to confirm that what he is about to say is entirely proper.

The Shinyover Rav, R’ Yechezkel Shraga, had the custom to immerse in the mikvah every day as part of his avodas Hashem. He was very particular, however, that the water should be pure, not to have been used by anyone else. When he went to Eretz Yisrael he had that same requirement.

One early morning, a Yid who did not yet have children, immersed in the mikvah, unbeknownst to the shamash. When the Shinyover arrived he called to the shamash, “Who already immersed in this mikvah?”

The shamash was upset because he didn’t know who had come in, but after numerous inquiries, he was able to identify the individual. The man was obviously embarrassed and anxious, but he came to the Shinyover to apologize.

“Are you the one who immersed in the mikvah before me?” asked the Shinyover in dismay.

The man nodded diffidently and apologized profusely. He had gone to the mikvah very early and had not been aware of the Shinyover’s stipulation concerning the water of the mikvah.

“Please tell me,” Said the Shinyover, “do you have children?”

When the man replied that he did not, the Shinyover said, “If so, I bless you that this year you should merit to have a child.”

Indeed, that year a boy was born to the couple. When the Shinyover was informed of the good news, he remarked, “There is no question that this child was a miracle. The moment that I felt that somebody had immersed in the mikvah before me, I became upset. But I overcame my instinct to get angry, and it was this triumph that facilitated the birth of this child, and gave the man his reprieve.”

This is not an incident that happened only years ago, nor is it one that can only be brought about with the intercession of great tzaddikim. When a person is successful in conquering his desire to speak lashon hara, or surmounts his inclination to cause tza’ar for another person, he invokes Heavenly mercy and kindness, not only for his personal benefit but for the wellbeing of the entire Jewish nation.


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Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, a prominent rav and Torah personality, is a daily radio commentator who has authored over a dozen books, and a renowned speaker recognized for his exceptional ability to captivate and inspire audiences worldwide.