Friday, July 24, 2009

Devarim- Taking Mussar

In the beginning of Devarim Moshe recounts many things that happened to the Jews in the desert and where they traveled. Rashi tells us (1:1) that Moshe was recounting all the places where the Jewish people angered G-D. Later, Rashi makes a comment on the place called Chatzeiros. He says, "He said to them, 'You should have learned a lesson from what happened to Miriam at Chatzeiros (Bamidbar 12:1-13) because of the slander she spoke, and nevertheless you spoke against G-D (This is referring to when the spies declared the Cannanites more powerful than G-D. Bamidbar 13:31 see Rashi there).'" The only problem with this explanation is that it seems to say that Chatzeiros is a rebuke for the sin of the spies, however, Moshe already said Paran which referred to the sin of the spies. Why then does Rashi tell us that there were two mentions of the sin of the spies, one sin referred to by Paran and the other referred to by Chatzeiros?

The Maharal tells us the answer to this complication. He tells us that an evil deed is a sin. However, if a person is warned not to commit a sin and then they commit that sin, the act of ignoring the warning is a sin in and of itself on top of the original sin. The spies here commited two sins. 1) The fact that the spies went and spoke lashon hora about G-D (actually Motzei shame ra) and 2) They witnessed the punishment of Miriam for speaking loshon hora and they ignored this warning.

This idea teaches us a very important lesson, the importance of accepting mussar (rebuke or lessons). The fact that Moshe thought it was important to point out that the spies had not taken mussar from what happened to Miriam is very telling of the importance of learning a lesson. If someone is so arrogant that they can not take rebuke from anyone or if they see someone sin and do not learn from that, that arrogance is a sin in and of itself. Moshe is teaching us a valuable idea, do not ignore the world around you or else it will come to haunt you in the future. Just like the spies were considered to have sinned for not taking mussar from what happened to Miriam, so too anyone who ignores the lessons around them will be committing a sin.

I think this week, where some very religious people were put in jail for money laundering, can teach us a very valuable lesson. If we are not able to take mussar from this terrible desecration of G-D's name, then we will not only be commiting a desecration of G-D's name in the future, but a further sin will be commited of not taking mussar from the lessons that are right in front of our faces.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check out on chazal being fallible.