know my name, guard thy tongue, clothe oneself

Whenever I'm feeling sick, I find I have no patience or tolerance for anyone or anything, the simplest things can enrage me when my reservoirs of inner strength are ebbing. Similarly, whenever I notice a particular lack of patience in my current state, it usually indicates a cold incoming.

This Shabbath I happened to discover perhaps the greatest thing ever. No matter how sick I feel, how exhausted and how utterly drained, when I'm wrapped in my Talith, my impatience and anger don't flare up. It was such a welcome revellation.

I can't tolerate my own intolerance, it only makes me more upset and wastes more energy; to learn that by simply wrapping my Talith I could escape that warrantless rage was such a gift. Three days later, Rebbe Natan explained why in Likkutei Halachoth. (If you make it through the rest of the post, the explanation is at the end.)

I'd like to add to the previous post on tzitzith (via Likkutei Halachot) :
The midrash teaches us that three things kept us afloat in Egypt, and earned us our redemption:
  1. We guarded our names
  2. We guarded our language
  3. We guarded our clothes
There are many discussions defining the list of what exactly it was that we guarded, whether there were three or more (or fewer) things, etc. I would like to unify them all like so:

Halachah, to this day, acknowledges the Big Three sins that we should die rather than commiting:
  1. avodah zarah - idolatry/worshipping Gods other than HaShem
  2. shfichut damim - bloodshed, murder.
  3. gilui arayoth - Forebidden sexual relationships.
Why do we hold to this day that these three things are show-stoppers? I would like to suggest it is because it was in the merit of these three things that we were saved from Egypt. How do I derive that?
  1. Guarding names - this is analogous to resisting idolatry, because a name implies a relationship and an intimacy, if we maintain other 'names' than that of God's Name, it implies that we have relationships to others, heaven forebid. (One can see this in action in that people name their children after their 'gods' -- what is most important to them. Many Jewish names similarly contain part of God's name.)
  2. Guarding language - this is analogous to resisting bloodshed, because we know that lashon harah (speaking evil of someone else) is reasoned to be the equivalent of killing that person. If we are truly guarding against bloodshed, we must even guard our language so that we don't even approach embarrassing someone else, (also the equivalent to killing them by the way) let alone thinking of intentionally doing them harm.
  3. Guarding clothing - this is analogous to resisting forebidden sexual relationships, the simplest explanation is that clothing covers nakedness, while gilui arayoth is literally 'revealing nakedness.' Similarly we see that Yosef HaTzaddik, when he resisted the temptations of his master's wife, he left his garment in her hand and fled. Clothing is the first line of defense against forebidden sexual relationships. If we take pains to dress modestly, how could we forget what it means to reveal what has been clothed?
Rebbe Natan explains in Likkutei Halachot how Tzitzith protects against each of these, the big three sins:
  1. The parashah of Tzitzith says, לא תתורו אחרי לבבכם - don't stray after your hearts - which relates to idolatry, of giving your heart to another other than God.
  2. Similarly it says, ואחרי עיניכם - and (don't stray) after your eyes - The eyes see nakedness, which would normally be shielded by clothes, the Tzitzith distracts our eyes from gazing upon and thinking about forebidden sexual relationships, reminding us of God's commandments.
  3. Lastly, the tzitzith take the strife out of someone. When one wears Tzitzith, one wears honor, and when someone is in a position of honor, they treat others with honor and respect as well, thusly, the Tzitzith also protect one from belittling the importance of another, namely from murder.
So, if we protect ourselves from the big three sins, by guarding our names, our language, and our clothes, then we connect to the essence of the Bnei Yisrael in exile, and we warrant to be redeemed just as we did in the Egyptian exile.


Related posts

Blog Widget by LinkWithin