New York – The enormous Chillul Hashem reported in Sunday’s New York Post is almost without precedent in thousands of years of Jewish history.
There is a fascinating Ralbag regarding the sin of Gaychazi (Malacham II 5:25) that is most appropriate here.
Let us recall that Elisha the prophet cured Naaman, the general of Aram of his leprosy. Naaman wanted to reward Elisha. Elisha refused to take anything. Gaychazi waited until Elisha was out of sight and ran quickly to Naaman. He tactfully implied that Elisha required a talent of silver and two suits of clothing. Naaman gave him two talents of silver.
Later, Elisha asked Gaychazi, “Where are you coming from?” Gaychazi answered, “Your servant went neither here nor there.” The Ralbag remarks that if Gaychazi would have admitted to the theft he would have incurred a lesser punishment. Elisha would have told him to return the items in a manner that would demonstrate to Naaman that Elisha had not asked for anything. Instead, Gaychazi added to his sin by not admitting his error.
It is clear from this Ralbag that when a person has erred, even if he errs grievously – his punishment is lessened if he admits guilt. Not so with Gaychazi – he confounded his error, by not admitting. This proved to be the cause of his complete downfall. Gaychazi was stricken with leprosy forever onward.
Rabbi Yair Hoffman is a mechanech, the author of several halachah seforim, the former morah d’asra of the Young Israel of Patchogue, a well respected Torah figure with close contacts with many Poskim. He may be reached at [email protected]