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Friday, October 5

The Weekly Shtikle - Koheles

Yesterday (Thursday) was the Yahrtzeit of HaRav Naftali Neuberger, zt"l of Ner Yisroel.
This shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Naftali ben Meir.

From the Sukkah:

Previously, we have discussed the pasuk in Koheles (10:8) "uforeitz geder yishachenu nachash," he who breaches the fence shall be bitten by a snake. The previous discussion revolved around the applicability of this pasuk to one who defies the edicts of our sages and the symbolism and relationship of the fence and the snake. As the Daf Yomi approached the end of maseches Berachos, a story related in the gemara hinted to another possible meaning to this pasuk.

The gemara  tells of of Chanina, the nephew of R' Yehoshua who was declaring leap years and arranging the months even after having moved away from Eretz Yisroel. This is a practice which may only be done in Eretz Yisroel, so long as there is someone there who is worthy of that task. Two sages were sent from Eretz Yisroel to convince Chanina to cease and desist. They were originally greeted with much respect and Chanina declared their greatness to the masses. When the sages began to act in an antagonist manner, Chanina sought to denigrate them and declared publicly that they are empty and worthless. But they retorted that "you have built, and you cannot destroy; you have built a fence and you cannot break it down." The meaning of this statement was that Chanina could not retract his original endorsement of the sages.

We see from the statement made by the two sages that a fence may be used as a metaphor for one's reputation. The "poreitz geder," therefore, is one who seeks to disparage and demean his friend through Leshon Hara. Each and every Jew has his own inherent greatness in one form or another. From the simplest of men to the greatest of Roshei Yeshivah, each has his fence. The speaker of Leshon Hara seeks to tear down that fence. Three pesukim later, a snake is compared to a "ba'al halashon." The gemara (Erchin 15b) explains how one who speaks Leshon Hara is compared to a snake which derives no benefit from attacking prey. Perhaps we can understand the earlier pasuk to suggest that the very individual who breaches the fence is indeed himself the biting snake. 

Perhaps it would be fitting to end of this shtikle, based on the above andin light of yesterday's siyum of maseches Berachos, by pointing out that HaShem is referred to, in the gemara Berachose 46b, as "goder pirtzos b'Yisroel," He who fences the breaches of Israel. May HaShem repair all of our fences and may we all merit to celebrate next Sukkos in Yerushalayim.

Have a good Shabbos. Moadim l'Simchah!

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