Simcha's Torah Stories - Metzora
Avi, isn't this a great tour?
It sure is Chaim. Where else would we get to see these big looms that weave the fabrics that make up the clothing that we wear?
You're right Avi. Excuse me, Mr. Tour Guide, how many looms are in this factory?
Excellent question, young man. We actually have 247 standard loom in this factory. They are all arranged in rows according to the fabric that they make. Some make thick material, some fine, some single-weave, some double-weave, some cotton, some wool, some polyester, and all types of blends.
Wow, 247 loom is sure a lot, sir.
I said 247 standard looms. We have one other loom that is not standard.
Is it bigger or smaller than the standard looms, sir?
Let me take you to see it boys. You can judge for yourselves.
With that, the group walked to the far end of the factory. They stood in front of two huge steel sliding doors. Making sure that no one was standing too close to the doors, the tour guide pressed a button and the doors slowly began to slide apart. The boys could not believe their eyes. Standing behind those doors was a monster of a machine. Its tons of high-density stainless steel dwarfed all other machines around it.
That is some loom, sir.
It sure is boys. It is so big and powerful, that it can produce as much fabric as all of the other machines in this factory combined. Look now, the workers are about to fire it up.
The wheels of the giant machine slowly began to turn. The threads slowly began to feed in. Faster and faster the machine accelerated. Within minutes, hundreds of yards of fabric were coming out of the giant loom. The boys practically had to shout to be heard over the noise of the machinery.
Sir, that is amazing. We have never seen anything quite like that. A machine that can produce so much in so little time.
Suddenly, warning whistles began sounding. The giant loom was malfunctioning. The workers scurried around to turn off the machine. But it was too late. In those few seconds, hundreds of yards of fabric were ruined.
Boys, now you have seen the other side of it. This machine is wonderful when it is running properly. When it is malfunctioning, however, it will ruin more fabric than all of the other looms combined. We really have to watch this baby. It has tremendous potential, both to create fabric and to destroy it.
Sir, have you ever heard of the Chofetz Chaim?
Did he work in the fabric industry?
No, he was the leading Rabbi of the Jewish people during the early part of this century. He wrote several books about the mitzvos of proper speech.
Do you mean pronunciation and grammar?
No, he wrote about not degrading other people. He encouraged people to use their gift of speech for only good things, and not to hurt others with words. Sir, you may wonder why I began talking about him.
That thought did cross my mind, young man.
In one of his books, the Chofetz Chaim compared the human body to a factory, much the same as yours.
Each of the 248 limbs of the body corresponds to one of the 248 positive mitzvos in the Torah.
Wait a minute, 248 is the number of looms that we have here in our factory.
Exactly. Each loom can produce material, just as each limb can "produce" a mitzvah. One limb however, is as powerful as all of the other 247 combined.
Just like here in the factory. Now you really have my curiosity aroused. Which limb is the most powerful one?
It is ... the tongue. Our gift of speech, when used properly to study Torah and say nice things about people, can "produce" more mitzvos than all the other limbs put together. After all, learning Torah is equal to all of the other mitzvos combined. That is the positive side. However, just as that giant loom has a negative side, so too does the power of speech. When that loom is malfunctioning, it can ruin more material than any other machine. Similarly, when we speak badly, we cause more destruction than with any other limb of our body.
Boys, that is amazing.
Thank you very much for the tour, sir. It was very enlightening.
Boys, I am the one who must thank you. You have enlightened me to the tremendous power of speech. That giant loom will remind me that when I speak properly I create great things. And there is no greater destructive force than improper speech.
Sir, we're sure that you will keep the machine running in tiptop shape.
THE GORING OX
"Your ox gored my sheep."
"I'm very sorry."
"I am glad that you are sorry, but that is not enough. You must pay for the damage that your ox caused."
"Wait just a minute. My ox was minding its own business, locked up in my corral. Your sheep wandered in, slipping through the bars. He had no business being in my corral. Therefore I do not have to pay anything."
"It is true that my sheep should not have been there, but you ox did the damage. You must pay."
The question is: does the owner of the ox have to pay for the sheep that his ox gored?
(This puzzle is form Tractate Bava Kamma 13b)
ANSWER TO LAST WEEK'S PUZZLE
Answer to last week's puzzle
WHO BUILT THE WALL?
Yossie owns field A
Max owns fields B, C, D, and E.
Max builds walls 1, 2, and3 between his property and Yossie's.
The fourth wall is built and Yossie must pay for half the cost of building all four walls.
The question is: who built the fourth wall?
(This puzzle is form Tractate Bava Basra 4b and Tractate Bava Kamma 20b)
The Answer is:
If Yossie builds the fourth wall, he has shown by his action that he is happy that the walls are there. Therefore, he must pay his share of all four walls. The Gemora (as well as the Mechaber in Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 158:6) rule that even if Max builds the fourth wall, Yossie must pay his share of all four walls. He receives benefit from the walls, therefore he must pay. Therefore, the answer is that no matter who builds the fourth wall, Yossie must pay.
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