Commentary to Vidui Part Three
We have forced others to do what they don’t want to do, including selling something they don’t want to sell . We cut people off from their desires, from Hashem , by complaining about them to Him, and by depriving them of what He has given them . We insinuate accusations without openly accusing others, thereby robbing them of their reputations . We are willing participants in groups that function with the rejection of one Halachah or another . We use God’s world in ways He does not want it to be used.
The generation most noted for its חמס was that of the flood. The Midrash says that when a man brought out a basket full of fruit to sell, one would come and sieze less than a penny’s worth and then everyone would come and steal less than a penny’s worth. The victim would have nothing left, not even recourse to the law, since no one stole more than a penny’s worth. The structure of the man’s world was being attacked. The law could do nothing for him. Society had no way to protect him. This is also true of forcing someone to agree to something he doesn’t really want to do. Once he has agreed there is nothing he can do, but he didn’t want to agree. This would include forcing a spouse, a friend, or a sibling through intimidation, and then saying, “But you agreed!”
We have accused falsely . We have made God secondary to falsehood by sinning in general, and more specifically, by lying willingly and ignoring God’s will. We have piled on one lie on top of another in order to support our first lie , . We are unwilling to overlook any shortcomings or mistakes in others, especially enemies . We have joined together with groups of people who do evil and falsehood .
Yechezkail Hanavi spoke against the false prophets who were saying only what the people wanted to hear, and were not pushing them to change and do Teshuvah . “Therefore thus says God, the Lord; I will even rend it (the wall around Yerushalayim ) with a stormy wind in my fury…Thus will I spend my wrath upon the wall, and upon those who have daubed it with whitewash/“אשר טחתם תפל“ . Just as a wall that is covered over with thick whitewash doesn’t show its weak points, so too the lies of these false prophets covered over the weaknesses of the people and Yerushalayim. The word תפל/טפל here means to pile on the falsehoods so that it becomes impossible to see the truth and what is necessary to change.
We have made ourselves less than what we could have been. The Gemara says that there are four groups of people who will not merit to receive the Shechinah, including those who lie. The Mabit says that even if they do Teshuvah they will not receive the Shechinah in Olam Habah. They will be limited to the pleasures of Olam Habah without a direct connection to the Divine Presence.
In Melachim we read the story of Achav and Navot. Achav, the king of the Ten Tribes, wanted Navot’s vineyard, which Navot refused to sell because it had been in his family for generations. Achav was desperate to get the vineyard, so his wife, Izevel, had Navot framed for cursing God, and then had him executed. A while later Achav wanted Yehoshafat the king of Yehudah and Binyamin, to join him in battle to recapture Ramot from the king of Aram. Yehoshafat wanted to join, but first wanted to hear from a navi whether they should go into battle or not. Tzidkiyah ben Kenaana, who wanted to be a true prophet , received a “vision” which he understood to mean to tell Achav to go into battle. However, when Michayahu ben Yimla came, he explained the misunderstood vision of Tzidkiyah, and he said; “I saw God sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right hand, and on His left. And God said, ‘Who will entice Achav, that he may go up and fall at Ramot-gilad?’ …And there came forth a spirit, and said, ‘I will go out, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’…And He said, ‘You will persuade him, and prevail also; go out, and do so.’” Who was this spirit that tricked Achav? Navot . Why did God say “go out?” Because the spirit of Navot would lie, it would not be allowed to come back. Navot was fulfilling the will of God. He had the full right to want to destroy Achav. Yet, he lost his place in front of God for lying. When we lie we make ourselves טפל/less than we could be. We lose ultimate meaning. We are no longer the עיקר/primary creation , for we have lost part of our connection to God in Olam Habah.
We have given advice that was good for us but bad for the one asking . We have given advice without paying adequate attention to what it was the asker really needed . We have given advice that made the recepient look foolish in the eyes of others. We have advised based on how we view the world, not as the other needed . We have determined in our minds to do an Aveira . We have voiced opinions on issues about which we were not well informed. We acted in a way that would set an example for others even if we didn’t mean for it to be followed.
When the Jews were contemplating splitting the kingdom away from the family of David Hamelech, they first confronted Rechavam, the son of Shlomo . They explained that Shlomo had been too rough, and they asked him to lower their taxes and work load. Rechavam asked for three days to think over the situation. He first consulted with the older men who had been the advisors of his father. “If you will be a servant to this people this day, and will serve them and answer them, and speak good words of them, then they will be your servants forever,” was the advice he received. His contemporaries told him to answer, “My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins…I will add to your yoke.” Rechavam followed the advice of the younger men. The kingdom split. This idea is developed by the Vilna Gaon who says that one of the three primary reasons that the exile has been so painful is that we are advised by corrupt leaders . The effects of bad advice on our history has been devastating. We contribute to that tragedy every time we give “bad” advice.
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