22 Av 5780 / Wednesday, August 12, 2020 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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Civic Duty    

Civic Duty

Everyone is wearing a mask now outside. It is a hint to us from God why this virus has come - Cover your mouth! Shut your mouth!


Reward and Punishment in the Desert 


In the desert, we committed the crime of idolatry with the golden calf. We were punished. We had to repent and Moshe had to ask Hashem for forgiveness. Hashem forgave us and let us continue to the Land of Israel. He gave us a new set of tablets.  


When we sinned with the Moabite women Balaam sent to destroy us, Hashem sent a plague that killed 24,000 people. Yet, our mission continued and we continued to advance on the Land 


We saw the miracles Hashem gave us which brought down Egypt, the most powerful empire at the time. We saw how Hashem defeated Amalek not by the soldiers fighting them, but by the words of prayer Moshe screamed out to our King. We saw how Hashem fed us in the desert every day and protected us every day from scorpions and snakes.  


It was all to no avail. The evil speech of 10 people blinded us to everything we saw with our own eyes. Based on conjecture, we gave up real hope of making it to the Land of Israel.  


Instead of forgiveness, G-d sentenced us to exile. We remained in the desert for 40 years until the entire generation of men died out.  


The punishment of evil speech was far more severe than that of idolatry. The sentence for evil speech was far more severe than immorality.  



Reward and Punishment in Land of Israel 


For the sins of idolatry, immorality, and murder, we lost the First Temple. We were exiled from our home for 70 years 


For the sin of evil speech, which continuously fed senseless hatred among each other, we lost the Second Temple. This exile has continued for almost 2,000 years.  


Without the Temple, the Kingship, the Priesthood, we are still in exile even as we dwell in our own home. We are at the mercy of the nations of the world, all working to tear us away from Hashem and His Torah.  



The Facts Are Clear 


When the president of the United States makes a statement, enacts policy, or simply tells a joke, everybody on earth feels the need to respond.  


Reacting to a political leader is commonplace. It can be an expression of your opinion. It can be a demonstration. It can be a letter to your elected leader.  


The King of the world has decreed a plague upon all humanity. Not since the generation of Noah has every corner of the earth faced such a universal upheaval. Rabbi Arush has specifically said that the plague has come because of sins against man and fellow man, and specifically, because of lashon hara, and especially because of slander against the tzaddikim. 


Every one of us must react.  


To react to an act by the King, we must perform a spiritual action. We must repent and do teshuva from the depths of our heart. It's exactly like the sin of the golden calf where we could all point to a handful of Jews and say, "it was them!" Yet, we all got punished. Not only did the entire nation get punished, every Jew throughout every generation got punished.  


It doesn’t matter “who caused it.” 


It's up to us to accept the challenge that we can all do something to heal the world by showing our King that we heard Him loud and clear 


I dedicated my response to taking the commandment of purity of speech more seriously. I am listening to daily classes and working  hard  to  improve. I learned that listening to evil speech is as bad as speaking it, so I am examining ways I can reduce the number of political articles I read on the internet.  


This is a start.  


Hashem willing, I can do a little better every day and do my part to make the world a better place in the eyes of its Maker and Sustainer. 


Please join me.  


If we all do a little bit today and God willing a little more tomorrow, things can get a lot better.  




Breslev Israel also recommends Shalom Link. It is a phone system with classes about learning the laws of proper speech, ranging from one minute a day to in depth learning of various books from the Chofetz Chaim, classes special for women, stories for children and many other topics like ayin tova (a good eye) – in English, Hebrew and Yiddish! You can also arrange for a phone reminder to call you to remind you to do your learning for the day, and enter raffles for prizes based on learning. 


Israel 072-337-2212 * USA 1-718-304-5344 * UK 44-330-325-1288 


In Israel, they also put out a fantastic monthly magazine which includes a section for children, for a small one-time donation. Call the Mishmeret HaShalom office – 02-537-9160 to get yours! 


Learning the laws of proper speech should be a merit for you and yours, and the entire world, to be saved not only from Coronavirus, but from all suffering.  




As an aside, as I was preparing the graphics for this article, I realized that wearing a face mask against Coronavirus is in and of itself a hint to why Hashem sent this plague to the earth – Don’t speak evil speech! Cover your mouth!!! 
-The Editor 




* * * 

David Ben Horin lives in Israel with his wife and children. 



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