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From Siach Shaul 353-4

Peace Rather Than Tripping

It seems to me that the most painful part of the curse is its element of “a man … over his brother.” This is itself a great curse.


Rabbi Shaul Yisraeli zt"l

Iyar 16 5782
The Torah promises, as reward for adherence to the Torah, "I will place peace in the Land" (Vayikra 26:6). In contrast, one of the most stinging curses for scorning the Torah is: "A man will stumble over his brother" (ibid. 37). As we read the section of the rebuke, our heart splits with pain, as we see the curses occurring in the most horrific manner (this is apparently a sermon from 1944).

It seems to me that the most painful part of the curse is its element of "a man … over his brother." This is itself a great curse. If there is no peace in our "encampment," if, instead of focusing all of our actions on the challenges that exist from outside, we are wasting energies on internal, pointless arguments. It is a curse if, instead of trying to support each other, we try to look for the weak point in our brethren, if the mitzva of rebuking our counterpart is applied in such a distorted manner, so that it is not to try to prevent sinning but rather to try to build oneself up on the "back" of another’s sins. This should not be blamed on this one or that one from this group or that group, but rather it is a curse in and of itself.

In contrast, when the Torah writes about bringing peace, Chazal tell us that this implies, the "peace of Torah" (Bamidbar Rabba 11:7). This is a true blessing, and it is a vessel that holds blessing. If there is no peace, there is nothing positive.

We are so drawn to dispute, as if we are dragged in without the ability to resist. It may not always look that way, but that is the way it is. It is not caused by our willfully wanting it. Rather a sin drags along a sin (Avot 4:2). What this means is that to a certain degree, we lose free will. Rashi says about the string of failures, which begins with "If you shall be repulsed by My statutes" (Vayikra 26:15) that each one of the string of seven sins drags along the other.

The first place to start to improve things is with "the toil of Torah study" (see Rashi, Vayikra 26:3). Once the toil of Torah study ceased, everything turned into politics. The misconception then is that one does not need to work hard at his Torah scholarship to make something of himself but just to work on having a sharp tongue. Once this happens, one believes that the main thing is being na’eh doresh (speaking of doing good). Then it follows that he no longer places much stock on na’eh mekayem (being good at fulfilling what he preaches).
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