Saturday, October 13, 2018

hespeidan shel tzadikim m'akeves as ha'puranus

Hashem tells Noach (7:4) to come into the ark because in seven days the flood will start.  Rashi quotes Chazal (Sanhedrin 108) that these seven "bonus" days (on top of the 120 years it took Noach to build the ark, which put people on notice) were the 7 days of mourning for the tzadik Mesushelach.  (The gemara quotes this limud on the pasuk 7:10, "Va'yehi l'shivas ha'yamim..."  The meforshim discuss why the gemara quotes the derash only on the later pasuk but not on the earlier pasuk used by Rashi.) From here Chazal learn that "hespeidan shel tzadikim m'akeves as ha'puranus," the days of hesped and mourning for the tzadik have he power to delay an evil decree.

What is it about the hesped of the tzadik that gives it that power?  Maharasha explains that hearing about the tzadik should inspire people to do teshuvah.  They should realize that the righteous person whose presence perhaps protected them from harm is no more, and now it is up to them to repent or face the consequences.  (The Rambam writes that aveilus is meant as a time of teshuvah, not just a time to mourn.)

Similarly, Maharal in Ch Aggados writes that it is the pain people feel at the loss of the tzadik that serves as the protection.  Hashem does not rub salt into people's wounds to pile tzarah on top of tzarah.  The loss of the tzadik, if taken to heart, is suffering enough and additional "puranus" is rendered unnecessary.

The Iyun Ya'akov (see also R' Povarski's sefer Bad Kodesh) explains it a little differently. The gemara (Shabbos 153) writes that a person's soul is present when people are maspid them.  During the week of hesped for Mesushelach, it was like he was still there!  Just like the presence of the tzadik protected people from harm during his lifetime, so too, through hesped it is like the tzadik is still present even after death, still offering his protection.

During a week of shiva, when people speak about their loss, when people still connect so strongly with the departed, it is like they are still there.  It is a final opportunity for hiskashrus.  Their presence, in turn, can serve as an inspiration to teshuvah, to closeness with family, to deeper connection.

1 comment:

  1. "on the later pasuk but not on the earlier"

    7:4 and 7:10 correlate with 5:22 and 5:24, meaning Mesushelach's merit extended first to his father(22), in that the infant appeared to the man as 'tov'* {like Moshe to Yocheved, 2:2}, and prompted him to teshuvah; only when we learn at pasuk 24 that Enoch finally walked with the Elokim without drawing from his son, was the zechus of Mesushelach available to protect the reshaim another 7 days [the first mention of 7 days, at 7:4, refers to Hashem's honoring Mesushelach for his merit that served his father, 'acharei holeedo et-Mesushelach', while the 7 days at 7:10 refer, for Rav, to the zechus freely applicable to the doomed of the earth]

    *or say that Mesushelach's future zechus, foreseen by Hashem, was applied at his very birth to 65-year old Chanoch, inspiring the father to walk with the G-d