with a select treasury of commentaries on all levels of Torah interpretation
Chapter 2 Mishna 5
with select commentaries
Commentaries used in this translation:
Rashi Commentary (1040-1105)
Rambam Commentary (1135-1204)
Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartenura Commentary (1445-1515)
Tiferet Yisrael commentary (1782–1860)
Rabeinu Yonah (1180-1263)
Derech Chaim - Maharal of Prague (1525-1609) (hebrewbooks.org/14193)
Biur HaGra of Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna - (1720-1797)
Rabbi Avraham Azoulai commentary - (1570-1643)
Rabbi Chayim Yosef David Azoulai (Chida) commentary - (1724-1806)
Chatam Sofer commentary - (1762-1839), along with Ktav Sofer, and others
Ben Ish Chai commentary - (1835-1909)
and many more..
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Chapter 2 Mishna 5פרק ב משנה ה
Hillel says: Do not separate yourself from the community.
Do not believe in yourself until the day of your death.
Do not judge your fellow until you are in his place.
Do not say something that cannot be heard, for in the end it will be heard.
Do not say, "when I will be free I will learn [Torah]", for perhaps you will not become free.
|הִלֵּל אוֹמֵר, אַל תִּפְרֹשׁ מִן הַצִּבּוּר, וְאַל תַּאֲמִין בְּעַצְמְךָ עַד יוֹם מוֹתְךָ, וְאַל תָּדִין אֶת חֲבֵרְךָ עַד שֶׁתַּגִּיעַ לִמְקוֹמוֹ, וְאַל תֹּאמַר דָּבָר שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לִשְׁמֹעַ, שֶׁסּוֹפוֹ לְהִשָּׁמַע. וְאַל תֹּאמַר לִכְשֶׁאִפָּנֶה אֶשְׁנֶה, שֶׁמָּא לֹא תִפָּנֶה
Rabeinu Yosef ben Shushan on Avot - "do not separate yourself from the community" - that one not be over-confident and think that he can manage on his own and he does not need friends.
This is a great mistake and against the way of the world (yishuv haolam). And since he said previously to be careful of closeness to the king, he returned to caution a man not to separate from his fellow who is equal to him.. For while a man is in this world, he cannot be without the company of others. Likewise, it is written: "it is not good for man to be alone" (Gen.2:18).
Daat Chachma u'Mussar 3:180 - "do not separate yourself from the community" -
that one includes himself in the whole (klal), and not exclude himself from being amongst them. For the existence and continuance (metziut v'kiyum) of each and every individual, i.e. of each specific person in the Jewish nation is only when he is attached to the whole (klal).. But a part which separated and went out from the whole has no existence and continuance.
Various explanations on not separating from the Tzibur
Tiferet Yehoshua - 1. this is a warning for every individual: do not separate from the tzibur (congregation)! For the merit of an individual is not comparable to the merit of the whole of Israel (klal Yisrael), and every tzibur (congregation) has the power of the whole of Israel. And he who separates from it, is left a part of tiny worth and near zero merit.
2. The life of an individual is short and he leaves and is annulled from the world, sometimes without leaving any remembrance whatsoever. But it is not so when he is included in the tzibur. For then he remains a part of the tzibur - forever, just like the tzibur is eternal.
3. If you are a part of the tzibur, a link in the great chain and included in it, your flaws and lackings are not so visible in Heaven among the rest of the people in the tzibur. But for one who separates from the tzibur, his flaws and lackings are noticed in Heaven, and automatically, he is dealt with accordingly.
4. Do not separate from the tzibur under any circumstances. Even if you are certain that the tzibur caused you troubles, even if the tzibur does not relate to you properly according to your personal opinion. Nevertheless: do not separate! For the merit of the tzibur is very great from all aspects, as known.
5. The merit of a congregation is like the merit of the whole of Israel (klal yisrael). When a man is included in the tzibur, he is connected to the power of the tzibur and the merit of the tzibur stands by for him. But one who separates from the tzibur is on the level of individual, and his strength wanes and weakens. Perhaps this is the reason the torah forbade counting Jews, as written: "then there will be no plague among them when they are counted" (Shemot 30:12). For all the time one is not singled out in a count, he is included in the tzibur...
Rabeinu Yonah - "Do not separate yourself from the tzibur (community)" - when the tzibur toils in a mitzvah, it is a crown to the Chai Olamim (G-d) and an honor to all His kingdom. For "the King's glory is in a multitude of people (b'rov am..)" (Mishlei 14:28), and it is not proper to separate from them.. But this is only for a tzibur going in the good path and they join together to do good. However, for a tzibur swaying to the evil path, whose deeds are corrupt, it is not proper to join them. On the contrary, it is praiseworthy to separate from them. On this, the prophet said: "O that I had in the desert a wayfarers' lodging-place, that I might leave my people and go away from them! [For they are all adulterers, a company of traitors!]" (Yirmiyahu 9:1).
Ben Ish Chai - Zechut Avot - "do not separate yourself from the tzibur" - this hints to what the kabbalists say that one should be careful when praying to include one's request and prayer with the tzibur, as the Shunamit said: "I sit amongst my people" (Melachim II 4:13). Through this, G-d will (more readily) do his request.
Sfas Emes on Avot - "do not separate yourself from the tzibur" - even though one has a lofty level by himself.
Bartenura - "do not separate yourself from the tzibur" - rather join their troubles. For "whoever separates from the tzibur will not see their consolation" (Taanit 11b).
Tosfot Yom Tov - this is difficult to me. If because of that, he can say I don't want neither their troubles nor their consolation.. Rashi adds there "he will never see a sign of Beracha". We can further say that certainly their consolation is greater than their trouble. For the [divine] attribute of beneficence is greater than that of punishment. Alternatively, he will not see their consolation due to dying before his time or being exiled from his place.
Tiferet Yisrael - this includes five matters.
One, not to separate from the customs of the tzibur.. (Bava Metzia 86).
Two, when they come together to fix a class of torah study or to pray or to take counsel in a mitzvah or needs of the tzibur, one should not say: "let them decide what they want. I'm happy either way". Rather one needs to advise for the good of the tzibur and help in every matter of the service of G-d.
Three, when the tzibur is in pain but he is not, he should also try to feel as if he too is in pain (Taanit 11a).
Four, when he prays for himself, he should also include them in his prayer, to include himself among all those in need.
Five, if you are the leader of the community, do not separate from them as if you are above them..
Chida - Kikar la'Eden - for tzibur is roshei tevot tzadikim, beinonim v'reshaim. Thus join them so there will be a tikun for all Israel.
Ruach Chaim - "do not separate yourself from the tzibur" - in worldly matters and all the more so in matters of Heaven. For in a gathering of torah scholars, some of them are fit to be a Rav to you, others are fit to be students and others are fit to be [equal] peers (chaver), and our sages taught: "I learned much from Rabbis, more from my peers, and most of all from my students". And here there is everything.
"Do not believe in yourself until the day of your death" - for to learn alone is not correct and do not say: "it is impossible for me to say something not right".
do not judge your fellow.. do not say something that cannot be heard, etc." - i.e. if you learn with a peer (chaver), do not say his reasoning (svara) is impossible to hear. Rather, examine it, for perhaps "in the end it will be heard".
"do not say when I will be free I will learn,etc." - do not say: "today I am filthy with sins and bad thoughts. What gain is there for me to toil in torah and soil its beauty with my filth? Rather only when I will clean a path and purify myself to learn torah lishma." This s a mistake. For torah study shelo lishma is a great key to come to learn lishma. For without this, no man would lift his hand against the old and foolish yetzer.
Bartenura - "do not believe in yourself until the day of your death" - for Yochanan kohen gadol served as high priest for 80 years and in the end became a tzaduki (heretic) (Berachot 29a).
Ahava b'Taanugim - "Do not separate yourself from the community" - as the verse says: "it is not good for man to be alone" (Ber.2:18). For one needs to learn wisdom from other people. Likewise for one's physical welfare, he needs other people. And even though one who separates from people refrains from sins, but nevertheless, he also refrains from mitzvot. On this the Tana said that it is not proper to separate from the tzibur. But this is only when the tzibur is righteous, not when they are wicked. For then it is good to separate...
"Do not believe in yourself until the day of your death" - since one may think he is righteous and trusts in his own righteousness when he sees others stumbling and falling [in sin]. On this he said it is not proper to trust in this. For who knows that perhaps one can also stumble like him.
"Do not judge your fellow until you are in his place" - i.e. picture to yourself as if you yourself actually reached his place (i.e. you sinned just like him), and then it is proper for you to judge him in the way of "love your neighbor as yourself".
Chachma U'Mussar 1:178 - "do not believe in yourself until the day of your death" - i.e. it is incumbent on a man to suspect himself always, and to flee from the possibility of stumbling in sin. For it is written: "beware, lest your heart be enticed, and you turn away and worship strange gods and prostrate yourselves before them, etc." (Devarim 11:16).
Thus the torah exhorted us with a warning to guard from the enticements of the heart. And even on something which appears to you as easy to separate from. Nevertheless, know that "man's heart is evil from his youth" (Bereishit 8:21).
And the intent of one's heart (with its enticements) is to make him stumble in its net and fall from level (dechi) to level, Heaven forbid.
The way of the enticements (chalaklakot) of the heart is to embellish in his eyes (bad things) slowly, slowly until eventually "you turn away and worship strange gods, etc."
Therefore, the way of the Tzadikim is to suspect themselves always (see Ramban on Ber.14:22, who brings the Sifri that we find all the tzadikim take oaths against their inclination). Even if they are far from that lust or desire, nevertheless, they suspect themselves lest their hearts entice them more and more.
But this is not the way of ordinary people. Because they are not knowledgable in the nature of their hearts, to suspect it of evil from its youth...
Chachma u'Mussar 1:255 - And even the greatest of the greatest of all men can stumble like the lowest of the lowest, due to the coarseness of the physicality coiled around his heels..
How much watchfuness, careful guarding, and great contemplation without interrupting for even one second does man need in order to not fall in sin! And if his eye tires for one second from guarding, immediately and right away, he will stumble, Heaven forbid.
Bartenura - "Do not judge your fellow until you are in his place" - if you saw your fellow had a trial (nisayon) and he stumbled therein, do not judge him negatively until you have a similar trial and are saved.
Sfas Emes on Avot - "Do not judge your fellow until you are in his place" - i.e. and it is impossible for you to ever reach the place of your fellow. For not all people's mindsets are alike (lo kol deos shavos). Therefore, do not judge your fellow at all.
"when I will be free I will learn [Torah]" - i.e. even if your intent is l'shem shamayim - so that afterwards your mind will be more settled to learn better, nevertheless, "If not now, when?" (Avot 1:14).
And even though "beautiful is the study of torah with work (Derech Eretz)", nevertheless work should be secondary to torah study. The majority should be in torah, namely most of the day in torah.
Tiferet Yehoshua - "Do not judge your fellow until you are in his place" -
if you see your fellow stumble, what would you say on yourself if you yourself stumbled in that same sin? Certainly you would diligently find all sorts of excuses and rationalizations to justify yourself. So too, you should strive on the purity of your friend to cleanse him as if you reached his place.
Chasdei David - "do not judge your fellow until you are in his place - in Midrash Shmuel - i.e. literally his place. For it is recognizable in a person's place whether his character traits are good or bad. Thus, when one reaches his place and asks the people there on him, then he will be able to judge on him. But not before he reaches his place. For then he is merely judging on the appearance of the eye and perhaps he is not correct in his judgment.
Bayit Neeman - R.Meir Mazouz Shemot #142 - if you want to know on a certain Gadol (torah scholar) whether his fear of Heaven [is real or] only external, look at his children. For the chinuch (education) which someone gives, if it is from the heart it is entirely different.
Sforno - "do not say, "when I will be free I will learn " - you the average person who toils in torah in some free times.
Tiferet Yisrael - when you have a bit of free time in the middle of your occupations, do not say: "what can I learn in such a short amount of time? Rather when I will have a lot of free time from my occupations, I will learn".
For "perhaps you will not become free", and the short time you lost is a small part of your life which is comprised of many such small parts, and this loss of service can never be replaced.
Tiferet Yehoshua - "do not believe in yourself until the day of your death" - like a driver of a fast car in a race. If he loses attention of the road even for one moment, the car could go out of the white lines and cause a disaster. So too is man's life. One must run to complete his purpose in this world in order to arrive at the designated place - the world to come. If a man loses attention and does not properly put to heart on his life which zooms by with tremendous speed; if he does not put every second of his life under great scrutiny, he is liable to "go out of the white lines", ie to tumble down in one second from all the levels he merited to and cause a great disaster.
This is what the Tanna says: "do not believe in yourself". Rather, check yourself always, every hour, every second. Do not believe in yourself. For one second ago you may be in a lofty level, but it is possible for you to already drop from your place and fall in the deep pit. Everything is possible in man's life. Until one's day of death, until the last second of his life, he is not assured of what merits he gathered. Rather, he must always stand on guard for his soul. Lest it be lost, Heaven forbid.
Siftei Daat on Avot (R.Yerucham Levovitz) - it is the way of the righteous to take oaths against their [evil] inclination. For the trait of the righteous is in the secret of "continuance" (sod kaymut). And the secret of "continuance" is to not believe and trust neither in oneself nor on others. Rather, to be fenced and sworn on all their deeds, that they be absolutely certain without a shadow of doubt on its continuance.
But it is the opposite for the wicked whose trait is to rest assured and believe in themselves, like a broken unfenced wall. Thus they certainly have no stable standing.
In the talmud (Sotah 21a)" 'for a mitzva is a candle and torah is light' (Mishlei 6:23). The verse compared a mitzvah to a candle and torah to light, etc. and it is written: 'when you walk, it (the torah) shall guide you, etc' (Mishlei 6:22) - this refers to this world which is compared to night.These words of our sages were said with tremendous precision (dikduk atzum), like all their holy teachings, according to the feeling they felt in their own lives.
It is analogous to a man who was walking in the middle of the night and darkness and is afraid of thorns, pits, thistles, wild beasts and robbers, and also does not know the road in which he is going. If he obtains a lighted torch (Rashi-he merited to fulfill a mitzvah), he is saved from thorns, pits and thistles; but he is still afraid of wild beasts and bandits, and does not know the road in which he is going.
When, however, dawn breaks (Rashi-he merited torah), he is saved from wild beasts and bandits, but still does not know the road in which he is going. When, however, he reaches the cross-roads, he is saved from everything.. What is the meaning of 'the cross-roads' [in the parable related above]? - R.Hisda said: It alludes to a talmid chacham (disciple of the Sages) and the day of his death."
"It is analogous to a man who was walking in the middle of the night and darkness" - they compared this world to night.
(as explained in Bava Metzia 83b - " 'You make darkness and it is night' (Psalms 104:20) - this is referring to this world, which resembles nighttime.")
And more than this [here], to pitch black darkness of night, in the way of: "and the darkness will be palpable (veyamesh choshech)" (Shemot 10:21).
Is it any wonder then that the wise men of the nations (scientists/philosophers, etc.) did not ever find the true path? They remained in error on the ways of life down to their final day.
For how is it possible to find something in pitch black darkness of night? The light of intellect alone is not sufficient to illuminate this darkness. Therefore, they remained lost in the darkness of this world.
"feared the thorns" - that can harm his body and pierce his eyes. For "a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise" (Devarim 16:19).
"and pits" - who also have sufficient depth to kill him - "[it is also not good that a soul be without knowledge] and he who hastens with his feet sins" (Mishlei 19:2).
"if he obtains a lighted torch" - they compared the light of mitzvah to a torch of light. For it is known that in the darkest of places, a single candle is not enough...
"[he is saved from thorns, pits and thistles] but he is still afraid of wild beasts and bandits" - for the light of mitzvah is not enough to save one from wild animals and bandits who wait in ambush to slay him. All their desire is to slay a man.
"When, however, dawn breaks" - i.e. the light of torah, then he was also saved from them, as written: "You make darkness and it is night, in which every beast of the forest moves about" (Tehilim 104:20).
But when the light of dawn rises, they flee to their hiding places. So too, when the light of torah shines, they flee from a man.
"but still does not know the road in which he is going" - for even with the illumination of the mitzvot and torah, nevertheless he can easily err despite that he walks on the path of truth...
"When, however, he reaches the cross-roads, he is saved from everything - this alludes to a talmid chacham (disciple of the Sages) and the day of his death" - for it is impossible for a man to be assured of which path he walks until the day of his death.. And our sages expounded the verse: "Lo! He does not believe in His holy ones" (Iyov 15:15), that it refers to Yitzchak our forefather. This matter is awesome to he who contemplates it.
Siftei Daat on Avot (R.Yerucham Levovitz) - it is written: "fortunate is he who fears always" (Mishlei 28:14) - specifically "always"! For "a man's Yetzer (evil inclination) renews itself every day [and seeks to slay him].." (Kidushin 30b). Therefore, a man needs to always be knowledgeable and aware of his situation without letup (hesech daat) of one second from his Yetzer who seeks to ambush him.
For despite all a man built up and elevated himself, nevertheless, there is no assurance of its standing and remaining. "Should you blink your eyes at it, it is gone" (Mishlei 23:5). If he blinks his eyes from his Yetzer, it is all over! In one second, it is possible for him to fall and completely shatter in pieces. And any slightest [ulterior] motive and intent in a man has the capacity to flip him around completely till utter destruction.
Due to this, a man must put his eye and heart always, all the days of his life, on his ways - to stand on guard from every [potential] breaking and destruction.
"Do not believe in yourself until the day of your death".
Siftei Daat on Avot (R.Yerucham Levovitz) - In the "Duties of the Heart" (5:5):It is a wonder, my brother, that for any enemy that one has, if one defeats him once or twice, he will back down from you and not consider waging war again, thinking your strength is greater than his, and he abandons thoughts of defeating you and overpowering you.The explanation of the matter is that it is impossible to kill the Yetzer completely until he can no longer get up. And even *in that thing itself* which a man already defeated the Yetzer, nevertheless, it is possible that eventually the yetzer will resurrect and rise up again against him. Even if you already defeated him, do not think you escaped from him. Rather, it is incumbent on you to know that your great enemy waits for you in ambush all of your days to vanquish you, slay you, and uproot you from the land of the living.
But the yetzer, is not satisfied with one battle or even a hundred battles, whether he has defeated you or you have defeated him. Because if he defeats you he will slay you, and if you defeat him, he will lie in wait all of your days to defeat you, as our Sages said "do not believe in yourself until the day of your death" (Avot 2:4)
[He does not consider the smallest of the smallest of your matters as too insignificant a means of defeating you, in order that he will gain a step to defeat you on a higher matter...]
This is what we brought earlier: "we find the righteous take oaths against their yetzer." For despite all their victory against their yetzer, nevertheless they never rely and believe in themselves. For they know the constant danger which they find themselves in. For the yetzer may rise up and resurrect again. Thus, certainly they took an oath against their yetzer.
Rabeinu Yonah - "for in the end it will be heard" - even what is between alone between yourself, do not make it heard to your ears. As our sages said in an analogy: "do not speak behind walls, for the walls have ears" (Berachot 8b). On this Shlomo said: "for the bird of the heaven shall carry the voice, and the winged creature will tell the matter" (Kohelet 10:20).
Rabeinu Yonah - "do not say, 'when I will be free I will learn..'" - for you do not know what the day will bring, and also tomorrow you will be called to the new things every day, and you will need to attend to the vanities. For there is no lack of various things every moment every hour. Thus, you will leave this world without torah. Rather, "Make your Torah fixed" (Avot 1:15).
Rabeinu Yosef ben Shushan on Avot - "do not separate yourself from the community" - do not trust in yourself. Do not think if you are alone and separated from the tzibur, the yetzer will not sway you. Know and see that fear (shame) of flesh and blood is a mighty fence and great barrier for every person.. For "a person is a mirror to his fellow".
The reason is that if a person has a stain on his face or a mess on the hair of his head, he may not realize this. But if he looks in the mirror, the mirror will show him this and he will fix what needs to be fixed.
So too every person does not sense all of his flaws. For he is biased towards himself, and "a person does not see fault with himself". But his fellow can see them and warn him.
Thus, one should not trust himself that he is acting properly and his deeds are accepted and his heart is whole and innocent with G-d. He should not believe in himself and trust that the yetzer cannot seduce him.. Rather all the time a person is alive in this world, he does not go out of the possibility of good or evil. Therefore, every intelligent person should recognize his place and fear and worry lest he become corrupt..
"do not judge your fellow until you are in his place" - for "there is no righteous man on earth who does good and sins not" (Kohelet 7:20). Even for great Chasidim (extremely pious), it is impossible for you to not see in them some thing which needs rectification. And if one sees in his fellow something reprehensible but sees himself cleaner than him, he should not judge his fellow as lower than himself.
For this itself is reprehensible to pride oneself over him.. Rather the just way is to fear and tell yourself: "he is of physicality just like me. Perhaps I too am liable to do like him.." Thus increase to guard yourself lest you stumble like your brother..
"Do not say something that cannot be heard, for in the end it will be heard" - "for the bird of the heaven shall carry the voice.." (Kohelet 10:20)
"Do not say, 'when I will be free I will learn, etc.'" - do not think in your heart that you will make your work primary and torah study secondary, pushing off the truth until you are free from the falsehood. For it is an evil thought to place in doubt the torah of G-d, "for it is your life and the length of your days" (Deut.30:20).
When you contemplate these five mussarim in this mishna, you will see they all stem from one reason, namely, guarding oneself from what might happen.
"do not separate from the community" - perhaps you will need them.
"Do not believe in yourself" - perhaps you will sway from the path.
"Do not judge your fellow" - for perhaps you will stumble like him.
"Do not say something", and "do not say, 'when I will be free..', for perhaps you will not become free".
Let this matter not be light in your eyes, namely, guarding oneself from what might happen. For it is very precious and very few people observe this properly.
For if one lacks one of the following thre traits, it is impossible to guard from this. These three traits are:
1. slow to anger (arichot apayim).
2. sound judgment (shikul daat).
3. ruling over one's spirit (memshelet b'ruach).
One who is not slow to anger will rush his deeds before his thinking. Likewise, the wise man said: "A quick-tempered man acts foolishly" (Mishlei 14:17). One who is not slow to anger does not have sound judgment to distinguish between what is proper to do and what is not proper. Both are equal to him, for he is unable to distinguish the two.
Likewise, the wise man said: "If you see a man who is wise in his own eyes, there is more hope for a fool than for him." (Mishlei 26:12).
Likewise, even if he is slow to anger and has sound judgment, but if he does not rule over his spirit, he will follow the whims of his heart. Even though he sees the straight path, he will twist it..
Raz Chaim - "Hillel says.." - Hillel has the merit to speak on the reprehensibility of arrogance for he was humble.
Regarding the Tzibur (congregation), the Pele Yoetz writes: "in the holy Zohar: 'the prayer of a yachid (i.e. an individual who skips praying in a minyan) does not ascend before the Holy King except through great mercy. And the Holy One, blessed be He, examines the debts (sins) of this man". end quote.
The reason is because he considers his prayer by himself to be like the prayer of a tzibur. If so, the Holy One, blessed be He, says "come and let us see if he is truly a tzadik that it is so proper for him to pray alone."
Thus, sometimes when one prays by himself, there is arrogance in this. On this the Holy One, blessed be He, examines his prayer.
This is what Hillel said: "do not separate from the tzibur" - for arrogant thoughts cause you to do thus, and therefore "do not believe in yourself until the death". He wrote: "do not believe in yourself", i.e. do not believe that you yourself alone can affect things properly in Heaven.
And a sin brings more sin. For when he is snubbed or slighted by others, he gets angry immediately and strikes the person.
Thus: "do not judge your fellow until you are in his place". Namely, if you yourself were to do this to others, you would not accept their reacting back to you like this.
Then sin brings further sin, to speak lashon hara (slander) on the fellow (which is a big part of arrogance as known). Therefore, he said further: "Do not say something that cannot be heard, for in the end it will be heard", a hint to lashon hara (slander). For one who speaks it does not want it to be overheard..
And "do not say when I will be free, I will learn (eshne)", "eshne" is from the term "shinui" (change), i.e. "when I will be free, I will change this bad trait". For perhaps you will not be free and die today or tomorrow with this rotten trait. Therefore, think immediately on repentance with service and mussar study.
Maharal - it is proper to ask in the teaching of Hillel:
Why was this placed here and not earlier (in chapter 1) with what Hillel said?
Furthermore, what connection do all these things have - "do not separate yourself from the community", "do not believe in yourself", and likewise all the rest who don't seem to have any connection to each other. He should have said on each one separately "he would say" as he did on the other teachings after this mishna.
The explanation of this is because the previous mishna mentioned the greatness of the tzibur - "all who toil for the tzibur, etc." Therefore, the words of Hillel were also placed here. For they also explain the greatness of the tzibur. The opposite of this is the (solitary) individual who is insignificant relative to the tzibur. Therefore, he said: "do not separate from the tzibur". For the tzibur is a klal which stands (endures) as we explained. The tzibur has more kiyum (continuance). Thus one who separates from the tzibur separates from that which endures more...
You should understand that he mentioned here all the changes. For a man is intrinsically a creature of change (baal shinui), since all physicality changes intrinsically and also due to causes which come on it always and most of all due to the passage of time. No man is static. Rather he is constantly changing due to incidents, as we will explain.
Corresponding to this, he said: "do not believe in yourself". For man is intrinsically a creature of change. Therefore, "do not believe in yourself".
Corresponding to changes due to causes, he said: "do not judge your fellow until you are in his place". If a similar cause befell you, you too would not have stood up to the test.
Corresponding to changes due to time, he said do not think this thing will not be heard in the future. For eventually it will be heard. And he said further:
"do not say, when I will be free I will learn, for perhaps you will not become free", there is no assurance.
This matter is a greater change. For the first two are changes due to some big new factor. But those [due to the passsage of time], namely, man's actions and incidents which are less big but constantly occurring, these cause man to not be standing for even one second.
A man thinks he will do such and such,and then new incidents and changes come on him.
Therefore, do not say: "when I will be free I will learn", and changes will come. For one is constantly changing.
Thus, these things point that man is a creature of change, the opposite of the klali (general).
And all this follows from what he said: "Do not separate yourself from the community"
Ben Ish Chai - Chasdei Avot - "do not say something that cannot be heard, for in the end it will be heard" - our sages said: "just like it is a mitzvah to say something that is heard (accepted), so too, it is a mitzvah to refrain from saying something that will not be heard (accepted)".
On this he said if you have some words of mussar and rebuke that the tzibur will not listen to and it will not be received by them in any way, do not say:
"Nevertheless, I will speak and give them some words. Even though now the words will certainly not bear fruit and will not avail these people who follow the views of their heart (Yirmiyahu 9:13), and they will be repulsed by the rebuke. But nevertheless it will help them later when they become old and they no longer have a yetzer which blinds their eyes and hardens their heart".
You are not permitted in this. For since now there is no listener to these words, and they will be repulsed by them, the words will be scornful in their eyes and they will increase sin to mock them, as the verse says: "do not rebuke a jester lest he hate you" (Mishlei 9:8).
He also exhorts from the opposite angle. Namely, if you see the generation is good and the tzibur lends ear to hear words of mussar and wisdom, strengthen yourself like a lion and stand on the guard to rain down on them words of mussar, wisdom, and fear [of G-d], and make known to them the proper way to go and the deeds to do. And do not be lazy in this saying "when I will be free, I will be learn with them wisdom and mussar. For perhaps you will not become free". Therefore be zealous and gain. Hurry to give them waters of life, to benefit and bestow good to them in this world and the next.
Chasdei David - "for in the end it will be heard" - we find the sages were very careful even on things which were seemingly impossible to be heard and with no one there due "in the end it will be heard":The story is related in Baba Batra (3b) about the self-appointed King Herod, who had slaughtered all the sages and saints of his generation except for one rabbi by the name of Baba ben Butta, whom the king had blinded by gouging out his two eyes. Baba ben Butta lived, but his life was one of poverty, pain, and degradation.It is known from the talmud (Yomah 4b) that one who tells something to his fellow, it is forbidden for that fellow to tell anyone else without permission..
Herod decided to test the trustworthiness of this lone, surviving sage, so masquerading as a commoner, he appeared before the rabbi and said, "Tell me, what do you have to say about King Herod and the terrible things he has done?"
Baba ben Butta had no idea who was standing before him, but he replied, "What can I do?"
"Why don't you curse him? Look what he did! He slaughtered all your colleagues and he gouged out your eyes. What do you mean, what can you do? Curse him!"
Baba ben Butta replied, "We were taught in Kohelet (10:20): 'even in our thoughts we should not curse a king'"
So Herod said, "That refers to a king who behaves with dignity. Is what Herod did considered kingly? Hasn't Herod abdicated the title of king by his actions?"
"Shlomo HaMelech goes on to say, 'Bechedrei mishkavcha al tekalail ashir. Even in the privacy of your bedroom, don't curse a rich man' (ibid). So even if Herod did not behave rightly, he is still wealthy, and for that alone I am not permitted to curse him. In addition, in the torah we are taught that it is prohibited to curse a leader of our people." (Shemot 22:28)
"But he didn't behave as a leader of your people. His behavior was so despicable," continued Herod, attempting to trap the sage, "that the verse doesn't apply to him. Tell me, what do you really think of him?"
The sage replied, "I am afraid to do so. Do you know why? Back in Kohelet, the verse continues: 'for the bird of the heaven shall carry the voice, and the winged creature will tell the matter' (ibid). So even if no one is here and no one sees us talking whatever I tell you will somehow reach the king's ears as if on the wings of birds."
The king was astounded and tremendously impressed by the sage's restraint, and also by his wisdom. The story ends that after this meeting, King Herod repented and changed his entire attitude towards life. (translated by Atarah Malach)
and on the verse: "Not so is My servant Moses; he is faithful in all My house" (Bamidbar 12:7) - but is there what to steal in Heaven? Rather, the intent is on revealing a secret (megalei sod).