||THE IMPORTANCE OF NEVER HARMING OR DAMAGING IN ANY WAY
- December '02/Kislev-Teves 5763
There are six sections of the Talmud. One of the sections is, "Nezikin
(Damages)." An entire sixth of the entire Jewish law deals in damage-related
subjects...everything e.g. property rights, definitions of damage, severity
levels of damages, causations of damage, responsibilities in guarding against
damages, court procedures, theft, negligence, restitution and penalties,
business and finance law, you name it. Damages is right up there in the "big
time" with shabos, holidays, koshruss (dietary laws), prayer, blessings,
marriage, and all the other more widely-known goodies.
In Isaiah 37:6 there are six words in this prophetic verse, and each word
in the prophesy corresponds to one of the six sections of the Talmud. The
Talmud (Shabos 31a) tells us that the word corresponding to the section on
"Damages" is "yeshu'os (salvations)." "Damages" deals with how not to cause
any damage and how to rectify and pay back if you do. Instead, doing good for
others is constructive, as it says, "The world will be built by
lovingkindness (Psalms 89:3)."
Any act of hate, spite, meanness, pettiness, selfishness or injuriousness
is scorned by the Torah. The Talmud [Yoma 9b, and elaborated in Gittin
55b-56a] tells us that it is such behavior that caused G-d to bring us into
this 2,000-year long, blood-drenched exile. Any Jew hurting or damaging any
other Jew brings destruction. The message is that by protecting from damaging
any Jew in any way is key to personal and national salvation.
The next point in the Talmud is that when one passes from this world and
comes to judgement, he is asked several questions. One of the questions is
whether he engaged in wisdom and understanding. Even if one learned Torah but
did not have fear of Hashem, he is like one who has keys to an inner chamber
but lacks the keys to the outer door. He still cannot enter. Torah must be
accompanied by fear of sin and by sincere and practical piety (Shabos 31a-b).
To be continued.