New York – The Lesson of ‘Tzom Gedaliah’ and the Prevention of Tragedies

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    File photoNew York – It was a time of horrific tragedies. Nevuchadnetzar the king of Babylonia had destroyed the first Bais HaMikdash. The brightest and the best of the nation of Israel were exiled to Bavel. However, a small remnant of Jews were allowed to remain in Eretz Yisroel. They were to be led by Gedaliah Ben Achikam.

    Gedaliah Ben Achikam was one of the Gedolei HaDor of his generation. He was also a Navi . Indeed Gedaliah was of such a lofty stature that Hashem Himself testified as to his remarkable character (See Rosh HaShana 18b quoting Zechariah 8:19).

    The King of Ammon was incensed that the Jewish nation still retained some sort of independence. He devised a plan, where he took a Jew – Yishmael Ben Nesanya and instructed him to assassinate Gedaliah, his men, and the Babylonians that accompanied him.

    The future of Klal Yisroel was in the hands of Gedaliah. His decisions were of paramount importance. Notwithstanding his greatness and piety and the fact that he was a prophet of Hashem, Chazal tell us that he made a crucial error in halacha and in its application. Gedaliah refused to take protective measures against Yishmael, when he was warned by Yochanan Ben Korayach of Yishmael Ben Nesanya’s malevolent intent (Yirmiyahu 40:16).

    The consequences were quite grave indeed. Gedaliah and all his men were brutally murdered (Yirmiyahu 41:2). The rest of the nation scattered and fled, thinking that the king of Bavel would take revenge against them.

    The Gemorah tells us (Niddah 61a) that Gedaliah Ben Achikam misused the halachic concept of Lashon HaRah and applied it erroneously. It was a tragic error that resulted not only in his death, the scattering of the nation, but also in the loss of Klal Yisroel’s independence as a nation.

    The results of Gedaliah’s inaction were so grave that the Mesilas Yesharim (chapter twenty) notes that the Gemorah (Niddah 61a) considers it as if Gedaliah himself had killed all of his people! This is a remarkably thought-provoking notion.

    At times, the sin of incorrectly “sounding the Lashon Horah warning” and ignoring the information is so grave that one who does so is considered the actual perpetrator of the repercussions that have transpired on account of the silence, whether it be theft, molestation or even murder.
    The conclusions from this are quite clear.

    There are times that information must be given to ward off potential harm to others, in order that they be able to take self-protective measures. At the same time, there are situations where it is forbidden for people to believe the information, even though they may act upon it to protect themselves. At other times, information must be provided in order to prevent an Avla, a terrible injustice, from continuing to happen.

    With the approval of Gedolim, Vosizneias is working on just such a story. It is a story of terrible injustice that is being perpetrated right now. It is an Avla that must be stopped. Stay tuned.

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    7 COMMENTS

    1. You must realize that, at the time of Gedalya’s death, the Bais Hamikdosh was already distroyed, and only the very poor and disabled were left in Yerushlaim.
      Bacause of Gedalya’s death they moved to Mitzraim, where they always wanted to go, like so many others that were already living in Mitzraim.
      In those days, Mitzraim was like today the America.
      Even right after Yetzias Mitzraim, in the Midbor, everyone knew that it was Mitzraim who had the monopoly on horses (which translated to power), and many Yidden only wanted to go back.
      Even when the Yidden, already had there own kingdom in E”Y, They always respected Mitzraim and relied on her for protection.

    2. This message should be learned by all. The Chofetz Chaim Heritage foundation should spread this message. Too often people assume that one can’t say or do anything about problems due to misunderstandings and misapplication of loshon hora laws. The result is that avlas continue on and on.

      Enough is enough. Ein bur yirei cheit vilo am haaretz chassid. The Torah wants us to prevent and fight injustices, not to sit idly by under the guise of ‘loshon hora’.

      • I must disagree with your comment. For any case of an avla that should have been talked about but was not, I can show you at least a thousand the other way. The comment of ain amhahretz chasid applies much more to someone who says it is l’toeles and then goes on to say totaly ossur lashon horah and rechilus.

        An objective shailah must be asked of a copetent posek before someone goes public with what is definitely loshon hora but “might” be ltoeles.
        Certainly there are times when it is appropriate and proper to disclose something, but to start saying that people do not talk loshon horah when it is appropriate is untrue, see how much is spoken and written and publicized when there is no toeles and how much is also patently false.

        You can start your Chofetz Chaim Fdn when it reaches the point that people do not speak even when they are supposed to.

    3. Like everything else there has to be a balance guided by the “Fifth Shulchan Oruch”, namely common sense. Those that are waiting for “cheat sheets” and charts to hang on the wall describing when and where mitzvahs – especially those that have to do with “dayos” – are waiting in vain. There is a context for every mitzvah and there is leeway within most mitzvahs. Sometimes it’s “Eis Laasos Lashem”.

    4. I agree with #6 but disagree with the numbers. I would say it is more like 50 to 1. We have to watch the pendulum carefully. By the way – it is also a pischei teshuvah that says it out straight – the overkill on lashon horah and the under representation of situations that should be stopped.

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