February 16th 2013
adar 6th 5773
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“Let Them Take Me an Offering for Me” – Creating a Connection to G-d
by Rabbi David Pinto Shlita
This week’s parsha, which deals with the offerings for the Sanctuary, comes after Parshiot Yitro and Mishpatim, primarily devoted to the revelation at Sinai, the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people, and the transmission of a few other mitzvot in addition to those already given at Sinai. Let us try and understand the connection between these subjects, as well as the nature and essence of this connection.
We should also stop and think about the choice of words used in this week’s parsha: “Let them take an offering for Me” (Shemot 25:2). That is, what does “for Me” mean? Rashi cites the Midrash in explaining it to mean: “for My Name.” Nevertheless, what connection is there between G-d’s Name and this offering? Another question that we previously asked arises once again: Why did Hashem ask the Jewish people to donate items for the construction of the Sanctuary, since silver and gold belong to Him, and He possesses the power and strength to do all that He desires?
Furthermore, we should be surprised by the repetition found in the verse: “Let them take an offering for Me – from every man whose heart motivates him, you shall take My offering.” The first part of this verse (“Let them take an offering for Me”) seems unnecessary, for it would have been sufficient to say, “from every man…you shall take My offering.”
As for the connection between the previous parshiot (Yitro and Mishpatim) and this week’s parsha, Tanna D’vei Eliyahu explains (Eliyahu Rabba) that after the Children of Israel accepted G-d’s kingship with joy and declared, “All that Hashem has said, we will do and we will hear,” G-d immediately commanded: “Let them take an offering for Me.” We may still ask ourselves what the connection is between accepting the yoke of Heaven, as expressed by the declaration “we will do and we will hear,” and the offering requested for the Sanctuary.
As we know, the goal behind the construction of the Sanctuary was to prepare an earthly abode for the Shechinah, to create a connection and link between the Holy One, blessed be He, and Israel, a permanent and concrete bond through the service performed in the Sanctuary, as the Ramban writes in commenting on the start of this week’s parsha. This is the meaning of what Hashem then says: “I will dwell among them” – this being the goal and calling of the Sanctuary.
Unity with Hashem by means of the Sanctuary only became possible when the Children of Israel humbled and annulled themselves before Him. When they annulled their thoughts and their will – when they subjugated their will before the will of the Creator by declaring, “All that Hashem has said, we will do and we will hear” – they became worthy of being united with Him by His Presence among them in a discernible and permanent way. In fact no real connection is possible between two distinct entities if each of them demands a separate identity. The very existence of two separate identities contradicts the notion of unity, and there can be no true union unless one of the two parties yields in order to fuse into the other.
During the revelation at Sinai, the Jewish people did not just receive the Torah, nor did they just agree to fulfill all 613 mitzvot. They in fact annulled themselves and surrendered their will to G-d’s will by declaring, “We will do and we will hear.” They left no place for their own views or assessments, for they were completely convinced that there is no other intelligence or will besides G-d’s. Hence they first declared, “We will do” and only then did they say “we will hear.” By accepting the Torah from this perspective, the Jewish people reached a level of complete unity with G-d, as it is said: G-d, Torah, and Israel are one.
Having reached such a level, the Children of Israel became worthy of being surrounded by the Shechinah, the natural result of their complete unity with Hashem. He came to dwell among them in a permanent and discernible way, if we may express ourselves as such. Concerning the verse, “It was on the day that Moshe kallot [finished] erecting the Sanctuary” (Bamidbar 7:1), Rashi explains: “On the day that the Sanctuary was erected, the Israelites were like a kallah [bride] coming beneath the chuppah.” Just as a groom and his bride, man and woman, are two halves that become a single body (as it is said, “His wife is like his own body” [Berachot 24a]), likewise during the inauguration of the Sanctuary and dwelling of the Shechinah among the Children of Israel, the latter were connected and united to Hashem in order to form a single entity with Him. As we have already explained, it was for this reason that the Torah inserted the command, “You shall not ascend My altar on steps” (Shemot 20:23) between the account of the revelation at Sinai and other Torah laws (Mishpatim). In fact steps symbolize pride and arrogance, characteristics that are antithetical to humility and self-denial. Pride destroys the connection that the Torah elsewhere allows to be created between G-d and Israel. Hence the verse warns us against falling from the level that we attained when we declared, “We will do and we will hear” due to excessive pride. It enjoins us not to use steps to ascend the altar, which symbolizes humility.
By accepting the Torah with humility and complete self-denial, the Children of Israel attained such a high level that “G-d, Torah, and Israel are one.” Hence they were “included” within their Creator so as to form a single entity with Him. Before asking them to build the Sanctuary, Hashem said: “Let them take an offering for Me.” In other words: “The very foundation of the Sanctuary and what is needed for the dwelling of the Shechinah is that you take yourselves as an offering for Hashem. This means that you must maintain the level that was yours when you declared, ‘We will do and we will hear,’ doing so by consecrating yourselves to Me and by annulling yourselves before Me.” Only then does the rest of the verse have meaning: “From every man whose heart motivates him, you shall take My offering.” That is, you will then be worthy of the Shechinah dwelling among you, and you will cleave to the Holy One, blessed be He, and become one with Him. This “taking” signifies an acquisition: It consists of belonging completely to Hashem and becoming His property, just as the offering that is consecrated to Him.
Our self-effacement is demonstrated when we accept the Torah by ignoring our own views (“we will do and we will hear”) in order to satisfy G-d’s demand: “Let them take an offering for Me,” meaning when we annul ourselves for the holy Torah. This allows us to explain the following Midrash: “Ve’yikchu [Let them take] an offering for Me. It is written, ‘For I have given you lekach tov [a good teaching]; do not forsake My Torah’ [Mishlei 4:2]” (Shemot Rabba 33:1). We may establish a link between the Torah and the Sanctuary: The union of the Jewish people and its Creator began with the giving of the Torah (when they said, “We will do and we will hear”), and it was completed with the acquisition of the people by G-d (“Let them take an offering for Me”), this being the result of the “good teaching,” namely the Torah which they accepted.
We can now fully understand why our Sages interpreted the verse, “Let them take an offering for Me” to mean “for My Name.” When the Jewish people are connected to and united with their Creator, they are called by His own Name, since they are one with Him. Now as we know, the entire Torah is composed solely of G-d’s Names. However the Torah’s words also allude to the entire Jewish people, since they number 600,000, just like the number of Jews at Sinai. Thus the letters of the Torah form G-d’s Names and Israel. This is what is stated by the verse, “Then all the peoples of the earth will see that the Name of Hashem is proclaimed over you, and they will fear you” (Devarim 28:10). When the Children of Israel do G-d’s will, when they annul themselves before G-d and cleave to Him, the Name of Hashem rests upon them, and they are called by His Name. That is why “they will fear you,” for when the nations see the Jewish people, they will, so to speak, see Hashem in all His splendor. This is the meaning of “for My Name,” namely that when you devote yourselves entirely to Me, you will be called by My Name and you will be included in Me.
Once the Jewish people reached the level of affirming, “We will do and we will hear,” and once they were completely acquired by Hashem as an offering devoted to Him, He declared: “I will dwell among them.” He would literally dwell among them: “I will descend and unite with you so that we will dwell together, just as bride and groom become a single person.” When we demonstrate an awakening below by taking an offering for Hashem, then Heaven draws closer to us from above (“I will dwell among them”).
The last letters of the expression Ve’yikchu li terumah (“Let them take an offering for Me”) have a numerical value of 21. This is equal to that of the Divine Name Ehyeh, in which Israel is included, and which always refers to the Jewish people’s connection and proximity to G-d: “Ehyeh [I will be] with them” (Ohr HaChaim on Shemot 3:14). The letters of this Name also form the initials of the three Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the source of the connection between the Jewish people and the Holy One, blessed be He, men who themselves were united and connected to G-d through their complete self-effacement before Him.
When Jews reach the level of, “Let them take an offering for Me,” meaning when they completely annul themselves before G-d, their offering for the Sanctuary will stem from true generosity. In fact because of our unity with Hashem, each of us will have the sense that giving to the Sanctuary is equivalent to giving to himself. It is the most authentic gift possible. Giving to one’s child is done automatically, something that rejoices the heart. How much more is giving to oneself! Thus when a Jew feels connected to G-d by taking an offering for his Creator, in his eyes he is taking it for himself. This is the kind of generosity of which the verse is speaking: That which consists of becoming one with G-d and giving from the depths of the heart, so intense is our attachment to G-d, and so intimate and profound is our connection to the Creator.
The Words of the Sages
The Value of Tears
It is written, “From every man whose heart motivates him” (Shemot 25:2).
Among the Jews of Iran, there lived an extremely dynamic youngster who was named as a “scout leader” because of his many talents and privileged social status. As a result, he led every scout activity in the region, in addition to teaching Hebrew. Nevertheless, despite his great success in these activities, and notwithstanding the great sense of camaraderie that he elicited in people, he felt a profound sense of emptiness. Upon examining these feelings, he realized that what he really wanted to do was to learn the holy Torah, and more specifically to learn it in the Holy Land.
After having clearly defined his goal, he told his father about his decision to go learn Torah in Israel. In response, his father handed him a pen and paper, and asked him to state in writing that he was forsaking his portion of the inheritance.
Actually, his father was convinced that making such a request would completely erase any plans that he had on leaving. In fact what sensible person would renounce the prospect of inheriting a considerable amount of money just for an ideal, regardless of its importance? Nevertheless, despite realizing the vast wealth that he was going to lose, the young man was not frightened. He therefore put his intention in writing and signed the document with determination, without even trying to change his father’s mind.
Having received permission to leave, he now had to put his plan into action. At the time, leaving Iran for Israel was far from simple. Thus he found himself being buffeted along impassible roads, illegally crossing borders, and running huge risks…all so he could finally achieve his dream of walking upon the soil of Eretz Israel.
As soon as he recuperated from this arduous journey, he went to find a place to learn, a yeshiva. Of all the places that people spoke to him about, the Ponevezh yeshiva was the one most often mentioned. This former “scout leader” therefore lost no time and immediately traveled there.
Arriving at the yeshiva, he did not waver. He asked to see the head of the yeshiva, and the young students directed him to the gaon Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman Zatzal. The Rav warmly shook his hand and asked him where he was from, and what he was looking for. The young man simply told him that he had come from Iran to learn Torah in a yeshiva.
“What exactly do you know?” Rav Kahaneman then asked him.
“Hebrew,” he answered quite simply.
“Do you know how to go over a page of Gemara?” continued the Rav in a delicate tone.
“No, I don’t,” murmured the young man.
“Can you study mishnayot on your own?”
The young man shook his head to indicate that he couldn’t, and then repeated that he knew Hebrew.
The Rav raised his hands and said to him, “Listen, in this yeshiva we learn Gemara at a very deep level. It’s truly an advanced learning center, and I don’t think you’ll find your place here. You first have to look for a place where they will teach you Mishnah and Gemara, and then we can test your level of understanding and decide if it suits this yeshiva. At your present level, you cannot study here.”
When he heard this response, the imposing figure of the young man slumped over, and he felt his heart break. At that point, thoughts of all his bone-jarring travels over difficult roads, the absence of support from his parents, his numerous friends who had criticized his plan to learn Torah and constantly said that a spirit of foolishness had gotten into him – as well as the fact that he had forsaken a huge inheritance – all these things came rushing to the surface.
However he said nothing, and tried to maintain his composure. Nevertheless, his face turned ashen white, and a flood of tears inundated his eyes and began to run down his cheeks.
When the Rav saw just how shaken the young man had become, he realized what was happening deep inside of him. He then patted him on the shoulder and said, “Dear friend, I’ve changed my mind. I’m allowing you into the yeshiva!”
The Rav put him in contact with Rabbi Shimon Harari, whom he charged with the task of finding a study partner to learn with the young man for an hour each day. Thus two years later, this young man became one of the best students in the Ponevezh yeshiva. Not long after that, people said that the young man’s presence alone justified the yeshiva’s existence! Yes, he was that good.
The name of this young man was Eliezer ben David, and soon afterwards he became one of the most prominent Torah scholars of our generation.
This story was told by the Maggid Mesharim (Rabbi Shlomo Lewinstein), who heard it from Rabbi Michael Peretz. The latter added, “I was always surprised by the circumstances around which this young man was admitted into the yeshiva. My surprise only increased with time, as I recounted his story to distinguished university professors. I asked them what they would do if a young student who was very poor in English and math tried to attend their university. Whoever heard my question waved their hand in scorn and exclaimed, ‘Nobody gets into university without English and math!’ However I would persist: ‘What would you do if the young student burst into tears when he heard your response?’ ‘I would let him cry,’ these professors would say, trying to be polite, ‘for without these basic subjects, he isn’t suited for a university course and he won’t succeed in his studies!’ ”
Rav Peretz concluded by saying, “The story of Rav Eliezer ben David taught me that when it comes to learning Torah, things are different…and that tears are certainly a valid reason for admitting someone into yeshiva.”
At the Source
The Only One Who is Truly Wealthy
It is written, “Speak to the Children of Israel and let them take an offering for Me” (Shemot 25:2).
It is written, “Mine is the silver, and Mine is the gold – the word of Hashem of hosts” (Haggai 2:8). The Holy One, blessed be He, said to the Children of Israel: “Give generously for the making of the Sanctuary, and do not say that you are giving from your own pocket, for everything is Mine.”
Hence He says, “Let them take” – from that which is Mine.
– Midrash Aggadah
A Triple Offering
It is written, “Let them take an offering for Me. …you shall take My offering. This is the offering…” (Shemot 25:2-3).
Why the three-fold mention of an offering?
This teaches us that the Holy One, blessed be He, showed Moshe three offerings: One for the Sanctuary, one for the First Temple, and one for the Second Temple, as it is written: “Gold, silver, and copper” (v.3).
“Gold” corresponds to the Sanctuary built by Moshe, which was precious in G-d’s eyes, like gold.
“Silver” corresponds to the First Temple, built by Solomon, of whom it is said: “[Silver] was not considered of any value in the days of Solomon” (I Kings 10:21).
“Copper” corresponds to the Second Temple, in which five things were missing: The Ark, Ark Cover, Cherubim, Fire [from Heaven], and the Holy Spirit.
– Midrash Avkir
The Kingdom of Edom
It is written, “Red-dyed ram skins, tachash skins, and acacia wood” (Shemot 25:5).
“Me'odamim [Red-dyed] ram skins” – these are the kings of Edom, whose kingdom extended over Israel.
“Tachash skins” – tachash is an acronym for: Who shook the walls of Jerusalem and weakened Israel.
“Acacia wood [atzei]” – they gave etza (advice) to turn Israel away from proclaiming the oneness of their King.
– Lekach Tov
The Honor of Torah
It is written, “They shall make an Ark” (Shemot 25:10).
Why did the Children of Israel receive the order to make an Ark for the Torah?
Rabbi Yudah the son of Rabbi Ilai…[said:] “It is as if a king had an only daughter, and she was fair, gracious, and virtuous. He said to his servants, ‘My daughter is fair, gracious, and virtuous. Why have you not made a palanquin for her? Make her a palanquin, for it is better that her beauty should be seen from out of the palanquin.’ So the Holy One, blessed be He, said: ‘My Torah is fair, gracious, and virtuous. Why have you not made an Ark for it? It is better that the beauty of My Torah should be seen from out of the Ark.’ ”
– Shir HaShirim Rabba 3:21
Making Others Do
It is written, “You shall make the beams for the Sanctuary” (Shemot 26:15).
Was it Moshe who built the Sanctuary? Does it not say that “Betzalel and Oholiav shall work, and every wise-hearted man” [Shemot 36:1]? However Moshe transmitted the plan, and Betzalel carried it out [i.e., Moshe taught Betzalel how to build the Sanctuary].
From here the Sages inferred that one who makes others do something receives the same reward as the one who does it. Thus we find that in the case of Moshe, although Betzalel did the work of the Sanctuary, G-d attributed it to [Moshe], as if he himself had made it, as it is written: “The Sanctuary of Hashem, which Moshe made in the desert” (I Chronicles 21:29).
– Shemot Rabba 35:3
In the Light of the Parsha
The Permanency of the Heavens and the Earth
The Gemara states, “Betzalel knew how to combine the letters by which the heavens and the earth were created. It is written here, ‘He filled him with the spirit of G-d, with wisdom, understanding, and knowledge’ [Shemot 35:31], and elsewhere it is written, ‘Hashem founded the earth with wisdom; He established the heavens with understanding’ [Mishlei 3:19], and it is also written, ‘By His knowledge, the depths were cleaved’ [v.20]” (Berachot 55a). It is also stated in the Aggadah, “With these three things, the world was created, for it says: ‘Hashem founded the earth with wisdom; He established the heavens with understanding. By His knowledge, the depths were cleaved’ [Mishlei 3:19]” (Shemot Rabba 48:4). We may therefore say that G-d only commanded the Children of Israel to make a Sanctuary in order to remember that they must study Torah and perform mitzvot. By doing so, they would maintain the world’s existence, just as the Sanctuary was created. Since they constantly saw the Sanctuary, they would be careful to study Torah in order to maintain the world’s existence and to perfect Creation.
This is why the text says, “Let them make a Sanctuary for Me, and I will dwell among them” (Shemot 25:8). It does not say, “in it,” but rather “among them.” This teaches us that if the Children of Israel made a Sanctuary and from it they learned to focus their attention on studying Torah and performing mitzvot, then the Shechinah would dwell in them as it had in the past, at the time of Creation.
Hence this subject is introduced by the words: “Let them take an offering for Me” (Shemot 25:2). The Sages explain (Tanchuma, Terumah 1) that the expression “for Me” means “for My Name.” Now could anyone possibly think that an offering for the Sanctuary would not be made for the Name of Hashem? For the name of whom else could it be made? However the Torah is teaching us that neither the world, nor the Sanctuary (which is similar to the world) can endure without man’s intention on doing all that he does for the Name of G-d. The word terumah (“offering”) is formed by the same letters as Torah and the letter mem (numerical value: 40), alluding to the Torah that was given after 40 days, as well as to the study of Torah. The idea is that a person must not grow proud of his learning, nor should his intention be to become great through his Torah. If he avoids doing these things, he will cause the Shechinah to dwell in him, and he will connect the Jewish people to their Father in Heaven.
We have received a tradition from our Sages that the heavens and the earth were only created by the merit of Torah, and they can only endure when Jews study Torah and observe mitzvot. It is also said, “If not for My covenant, I would not have appointed days and nights, the decrees of heaven and earth” (Jeremiah 33:25). Here the Sages explain: “Without the Torah, the heavens and the earth would not endure” (Pesachim 68a). When G-d created man, He gave him 248 limbs and 365 sinews, corresponding to the 613 mitzvot of the Torah, which contain 248 positive and 365 negative commandments. When a person studies Torah and fulfills the 613 mitzvot, Scripture considers him to be G-d’s partner in Creation, as if he perfected Creation. In fact before the Children of Israel studied Torah, the existence of the heavens and the earth was in doubt, as the Gemara explains: “The Holy One, blessed be He, stipulated with the works of Creation and said to it: ‘If Israel accepts the Torah, you shall endure. If not, I will return you to chaos and anarchy’ ” (Shabbat 88a). Since Jews study the Torah, the existence of the heavens and the earth is ensured.
Commenting on the teaching of the Tanna Nittai of Arbel: “Do not abandon belief in [Divine] retribution” (Pirkei Avoth 1:7), the Rambam explains: “Even when you find yourself in the depths of a catastrophe, do not lose hope of imploring the Holy One, blessed be He, for help.” In fact His mercy is great, as it is said: “Hashem’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save” (Isaiah 59:1), “The salvation of Hashem comes in the blink of an eye,” and “Nothing can prevent Hashem from saving, whether through many or through few” (I Samuel 14:6). The Gemara also states that Hezekiah told the prophet Isaiah, “I have this tradition from the house of my father’s father: Even if a sharp sword rests upon a man’s neck, he should not desist from prayer” (Berachot 10a).
Commenting on the Jerusalem Talmud in his book Yafeh Mareh, Rav Shmuel Yafeh explains that when Hezekiah mentioned the tradition of “my father’s father,” he was referring to Jehoshaphat, of whom it is written: “Jehoshaphat cried out, and Hashem helped him” (II Chronicles 18:31). For the Jerusalem Talmud and the Yalkut, this teaches us that the only thing missing was his actual decapitation. In other words, the sword was already at his throat, and yet he did not desist from praying. He implored Hashem for help, and his prayer was answered. In this regard, the book Anaf Etz Avot describes an incident that happened to the pious gaon Rabbi Yaakov of Antebi (may Hashem avenge his blood), who served as the Rav of Damascus when a plot was hatched against Jews in the year 5600. The governor, a wicked man, had the gaon put in irons and tortured. Wanting to threaten him, he ordered a soldier to draw his sword and place it on the Rav’s neck. The Rav could feel that the sword had been placed on his neck backward, at which point he recalled the teaching of the Sages: “Even if a sharp sword rests upon a man’s neck, he should not desist from prayer.” That is, we must not lose hope only when the sword is placed backwards, as it was in his case, but also when the sharp edge is placed at our neck, as it was for Jehoshaphat, who was but a hairsbreadth away from having his head cut off. Even in that case, we should not desist from prayer.
The Prayer of a Tzaddik
Another story involves something that happened to the gaon Rabbi Eliyahu Mani, the Av Beit Din of Hevron. He traveled to Egypt during a famine in Eretz Israel, his goal being to return with food for the residents of Hevron. He went to see the Egyptian Minister of Finance, who loved and admired the rabbanim. He demonstrated great respect for the Rav, and he invited him for lunch. After they had finished eating, the minister excused himself because he had to leave. In fact he had to present himself before the king because the government was about to designate a clothing center with a mandate to produce 50,000 uniforms for the military. Since the Minister of Finance had his own proposal to make on the nature and cost of these uniforms, he also had to be present.
Rabbi Eliyahu Mani wished the minister luck, and asked him not to get so caught up in the meeting that he would forget about praying Mincha. In fact the Sages say, “A man should always take special care about the afternoon prayer. For even Eliyahu was favorably heard only while offering his afternoon prayer” (Berachot 6b). The minister promised the Rav that he wouldn’t forget.
After an in-depth discussion with the king and his advisors on the proposals being made for the center, the minister looked at his watch and realized that the sun would soon be setting. If he waited for his time to speak in order to present his proposal, it was very possible that he would miss Mincha. He therefore discreetly excused himself to his friends, arose, and went to another room in order to pray Mincha. As he prayed, the verse: “Before they call, I will answer. While they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24) was fulfilled in him. Hashem heard his prayer, for this minster was very generous, and he did a great deal of good for his people. Hashem therefore inspired the king and other minsters to grant him the center. The king wanted to congratulate him, but he wasn’t there. The minster’s friends told the king that he had gone to pray, and therefore they waited for him to finish. When he returned to the meeting, the king congratulated him on his success for the center. At the same time, the king asked him: “Since when have you become so pious and wise that you get up in the middle of a ministerial meeting to go pray?”
The minister told him everything: “A great sage from the land of Israel is staying at my home, and I promised him that I would pray. I therefore got up to keep my promise.” When the other ministers left, the king summoned the minister to ask him a question in private: “I have a daughter who is sick, bedridden for several months already. I brought in medical specialists, but they’ve been powerless to help. I also asked religious men to pray for her, but it’s been useless. I beg you, ask this rabbi who’s staying with you to come and bless her. Perhaps she’ll recover.” The minister agreed and asked the Rav to come with him to the royal palace to pray for the king’s daughter.
Rabbi Eliyahu Mani immediately accepted, and when he appeared before the king, the latter brought him to see his daughter. There, the Rav asked Hashem to sanctify His Name by sending the king’s daughter a swift and complete recovery.
The prayer of the tzaddik was heard, and three days later the king’s daughter got up from bed, completely healed. The king was overjoyed, and once again he invited the Rav to the royal palace. When he arrived, the king expressed his gratitude to him, for his daughter had been healed on account of his prayer. At that point the king asked him why he had come to Egypt, and the Rav replied that there was nothing to eat in Israel, where a famine was raging. The king immediately ordered several sacs of wheat to be shipped to the Rav’s address in Hevron, and he also presented the Rav with gold coins. Thus the Rav left with great possessions for the residents of Hebron, and the Name of Heaven was sanctified through him.
I Am Prayer
Kashering the Mouth
A person must realize that his prayers, which should ascend before the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, must be clean and pure, without a trace of impurity. If he speaks forbidden words throughout the day – which render his lips impure, as it is written, “For I am a man of impure lips” [Isaiah 6:5] – and then he presents his prayers with the same filthy mouth, impurity will hover over his prayers, preventing them from being answered.
He should thoroughly cleanse his mouth beforehand, kashering it so he can pray with a clean and pure mouth. Cleansing one’s mouth consists of repenting before prayer, and resolving to no longer speak forbidden words. In that case, one’s prayer will be heard.
– Zachor LeMiriam
Guard Your Tongue
Foreseeing the Consequences
Sometimes, the prohibition against Lashon Harah may apply even in regards to a child. If our intention is to avoid some damage that may be caused by a child, and to guide him along the right path, then it is permitted. However we must know with complete certainty that the account we plan on giving is accurate, and we must not hastily depend upon what we have heard from others. We must also foresee the consequences of what we plan on saying, for oftentimes a great deal of harm may result in such situations.
– Chafetz Chaim