Friday, May 20, 2022

Chagigah 16: Wordless Testimony

On this daf, we find that the stones and pillars of one’s home will bear witness to his sins.

Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Specter, the acknowledged gadol hador of his time, provided a powerful explanation of a vivid expression of our sages: “Some people place most of their focus on the material world. They learn Torah and fulfill mitzvos, but are mostly preoccupied with this world. For others, the main thing is the next world.

“Our sages say in Chagigah 16 that in the next world, the stones and pillars of one’s house will testify against him and catalogue his sins. This doesn’t necessarily mean that these animate objects will actually testify, just that they reveal important aspects of his values. Did he spend most of his time and energy beautifying his home, to be the envy of the highest of the land? Or was his focus on spiritual matters, such as helping others less fortunate than he? In one’s home, it is revealed what a person sees as his main objective. Did he concentrate his energies on the material or was he immersed in the spiritual?”

Rav Meir Arik traveled to Tarnipol to collect money. While there, he approached Reb Yaakov Breitman, a very wealthy member of their community, for assistance. Although Reb Yankeleh could have easily given an ample donation in the bais medrash, he asked Rav Meir to accompany him to his home for the donation.

Rav Meir gave him a quizzical look. “Why should we go to your home?”

Reb Yankeleh offered a compelling reply. “In Chagigah 16, our sages say that the stones and pillars of a person’s home testify against him in heaven if he sinned. I want the stones and pillars of my house to be able to recite some good testimony too. After they recount all the nonsense I have done within my home, they will have to admit that I at least gave donations there as well. I therefore ask every person who meets me elsewhere to accompany me to my house to receive my donation” (Shevivei Ohr, p. 144;  Aish Pinchos, Part I,  p. 104).

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