08 Mar PURIM- THE POWER OF SILENCE
The mazal of the month of Adar is Dagim. The Klausenberger Rebbe zt’l said that this month, which is represented by fish, is a month of happiness, since while lions roar, donkeys bray, horses neigh, and so on for all other animals, fish are silent, and remaining silent is happiness.
On the passuk in Mishlei 15:23), the Noam Elimelech explains, “Simcha Lish”, how does a Ish Tzedek get to simchah? “Bmanaeh Bpiv”, by afflicting his mouth [Enuy means affliction]. A person should afflict his mouth by refraining from idle talk that has no purpose. He should guard his mouth immensely, to speak with holiness. By doing so, his mind will be pure to think about Hashem’s greatness. and he will love the Creator and desire the mitzvos immensely.” This inspirational commentary teaches us that remaining silent is mesugal for happiness. When you want to say something and refrain, it’s painful to remain silent. Yet, you will be better off remaining silent (if there is no valid reason to say it) and you will be happier too. This is implied by the silent fish, which are the mazal of Adar, the month of happiness.
The Chasam Sofer zt’l teaches that the Purim miracle happened because of remaining silent. To explain that, we begin with the following passuk: Haman said to Achashveirosh, “There is one nation, dispersed and spread out between the nations in all the states of your kingdom. Their laws are different from all nations, and they don’t keep the laws of the king, and the king has no reason to tolerate them. If it is good for the king, inscribe to destroy them…” (Esther 3:7-8). On this passuk, the Gemara (Megillah 13:) says, “no one knows how to speak lashon hara like Haman.” The Gemara writes the conversation that took place between Haman and Achashveirosh (which is alluded to in this passuk) and Haman’s terrible lashon hara:
Haman: Destroy them. Achashverosh: I’m afraid their G-d shouldn’t do to me, as He did to my predecessors. Haman: They are sleeping from the mitzvos (Yeshno).
Achashverosh: But they have rabbis [and in their merit, I’m afraid to start up with them]. Haman: They are one nation (Am Echad). [And since they are one nation, Hashem will not avenge for the rabbis, as there are many among them who are “sleeping from the mitzvos.”] Haman: Perhaps you fear creating an uninhabited area in your kingdom [since if you kill them, and they all live together in, you have made that country forsaken. You don’t need to be concerned about that, because] they are dispersed over all nations [they don’t live in one location]
Haman: Perhaps you will claim that you earn profits from them? Mephurad, they are like a Perada, mule, that doesn’t bear children.
Haman: Perhaps you will say [that even if there isn’t a large area where the Jews live all together] perhaps there is a small province that belongs to Jews [and to kill them will turn that province into a ghost town. Once again, you don’t need to worry about that, because] they are spread out over all the countries of your kingdom, [and they don’t have their own land].
Haman: “Vdoshem Shonot Mikal Am”. They don’t eat our food; they don’t marry our daughters; and they don’t give their daughters to us for marriage.
Haman: “Ves domei Hamelech Eino Osim”, they don’t work for the king, as they are always claiming “today is Pesach,” “today is Shabbos” [and they say that they can’t work].
Haman: They eat and drink and disgrace the king. If a fly falls into a cup of [wine of] one of them, they take out the fly and drink the wine. But if my master, the king, will touch one of their cups, they pour it out on the ground and they don’t drink it.
Haman spoke lashon hara on the Jewish nation until Achashveirosh agreed to annihilate them. The Chasam Sofer explains that we were saved by the tzaddikim, Mordechai and Esther, because they had the trait of silence, which served to annul Haman’s lashon hara. Mordechai and Esther weren’t the only tzaddikim of that generation. There were many others. But Mordechai and Esther were chosen for the miracle because they were silent (when necessary), and that merit defied Haman’s lashon hara. As the megillah states, “Esther didn’t reveal her nation or her birthplace because Mordechai told her not to tell” (Esther 2:10). The merit of their silence overcame Haman’s lashon hara, and we were saved. The importance of being silent is hinted in this week’s parsha with the me’il of the cohen gadol.
The Gemara (Zevachim 88:) asks, “Why does the Torah juxtapose the korbanos with the special clothes of the cohen gadol? 4 To teach you that just as the korbanos atone, so do the clothes of the cohen gadol atone. The Ketonet, tunic, atones for murder (see Bereishis 37:31)… The pants, atones for adultery (see Shmos 28:42)… The turban, atones for arrogance. Why? Let something that’s worn high on the head atone for someone who feels high. The Avnet, belt, atones for the heart’s bad thoughts, because the Avnet was [wrapped upon the cohen gadol’s] heart. The Choshen,, breastplate, atones for [the courts’] errors in judgment, as it states “Vasita Choshen Mishpat” (28:15). The Eiphod atones for avodah zarah… The Meil, robe, atones for lashon hara. Why? Let a garment that makes sounds (the Tzits had bells along its hem) atone for lashon hara. The Tzits (the gold band worn on the cohen gadol’s forehead) atones for chutzpah…” Thus, the me’il atoned for lashon hara. The bells that were sewn along its hem, atoned for the sounds of lashon hara. The Rambam (Kli HaMikdash 9:3-4) describes the Meil: “The me’il was made entirely from techeles… It didn’t have sleeves. It was divided into two cloths, [one part hung in front, and one in the back] from the neck down, like all robes, connected solely around the neck…. Bring blue died wool, purple wool, and scarlet wool… and make them appear like pomegranates, with their mouths unopened, and hang them on the me’il’s [hem]. Bring seventy-two bells… thirty-six on either side… So that on the hems of the me’il will hang a bell, a pomegranate, a bell, a pomegranate.”
As the passuk states, “a gold bell and a pomegranate, a gold bell and a pomegranate, on the hems of the me’il, all around” (28:34). The sequence was one bell and one pomegranate, all along the hems of the me’il. Based on this information, we ask: were the pomegranates between the bells, or were the bells between the pomegranates? Was a pomegranate between two bells, or was a bell between two pomegranates? The answer is, both statements are true, as they were sewn onto the me’il successively, a pomegranate, a bell, a pomegranate, a bell.
The Alshich HaKadosh asks, why then does the Torah (Shmos 28:33) write that the gold bells were in the middle? Why not that the pomegranates were in the middle?
The Alshich writes, “The Torah Hakdoshah says ‘the gold bells were between the [pomegranates].’ This passuk arouses a question, because just as there were bells in the midst of pomegranates, so were there pomegranates in the midst of bells, since the bells and pomegranates were arranged one after the other.” So why did the passuk express specifically that the bells were in the middle? The Alshich answers, “This passuk is a mussar from our Father in heaven, teaching us that there is nothing better than silence. The bells with the tongue that clangs in them were made to signify a tongue that clangs within one’s mouth… It’s a mashal, hinting to speech. The pomegranates… are hollow closed mouths, that don’t make any sound. They hint to silence, to not speak.
Hashem teaches us that we should not consider it as though the pomegranates are in between the bells, [which would imply] that there should be once silence between twice speaking. Rather, [one should view it] as though the bell were in between the pomegranates, which means that between being silent twice, speak only once. One should be silent double the amount he speaks. After keeping silent and not saying two things, say one thing, just as there’s a bell between two pomegranates. For, it wasn’t for naught that Hashem gave the person one mouth and two eyes if it weren’t to teach the person that he should speak half of what he sees with his eyes. This will be his prevention, [from speaking forbidden talk]…” The face tells you to share only 50% of what you know, because a person has two eyes to acquire information, but only one mouth to reveal what he saw. This is also implied by Chazal, “A word for a sela, silence for two.” (Megillah 18.). This can imply that for every word spoken, be silent twice. This is what we learn from the me’il, which had one bell (representing speech) between two pomegranates, implying to be twice silent, and to speak once.