Can you tell us something, a lesson maybe, about Tzom Gedalya?
The Mesillas Yesharim talks about the quality of chassidus. Chassidus means to do something that’s very righteous; sometimes it’s far beyond the obligation that the Torah requires. Such a man is a chossid; he’s mischassed im Kono, he does more than is required for Hashem.
But there’s a great danger there, the Mesillas Yesharim says. Because it’s not enough to look at the deed that you’re doing and see how good it is, how virtuous it is. You must judge it by its results. If the results are not good then no matter how good the deed is, it’s not chassidus.
Gedalyah ben Achikam was the righteous governor of Yerushalayim who was left over after Nevuchadnetzar had exiled the entire people. He left over only the poor of the nation, the dalas ha’am, and he appointed Gedalyah ben Achikam, who was a righteous governor.
Now somebody came to this righteous governor and informed him that this and this man, Yishmael, was plotting to kill him, an assasination.
So the righteous Gedalyah said, ”I don’t accept any slander on a fellow Jew. It’s lashon hara. I don’t believe it.”
And the end was he was murdered by this man.
Now what happened when Gedalyah was murdered? The Jews that remained were afraid of the wrath of the king of Bavel because a Jew had killed his appointed governor. Gedalyah was the governor appointed by the King of Bavel so to murder him was a rebellion; it was like rebelling against the rule of Bavel. So all the Jews that had remained in Eretz Yehuda finally fled and now Yehudah was desolate for many years. No Jews were there at all.
Now, if Gedalyah would have paid attention to the warning, he would have saved his life and he could have saved that remnant that remained in the land; but because Gedalyah was a very big tzaddik, a chossid, he refused to listen to lashon hara and therefore he was killed. Not only he was killed but all the people with him were killed; in his court all the officials were killed and the rest of the people had to leave Yehudah because they were afraid of the King of Bavel.
Now it states there in the Tanach, האנשים אשר הכה ביד גדליהו – The people that were slain by the hand of Gedalyah (Yirmiyahu 41:9) Now Gedalyah didn’t kill anybody. He was killed himself! But the Gemara says that Gedalyah is blamed for killing all those people. Because he was such a big tzaddik, he refused to listen to the warning and now he’s blamed. So we see if you’re a big tzaddik but you bring trouble on other people because of your tzidkus, you’re not a tzaddik. Gedalyah is blamed. And so one lesson is that it’s not enough to be righteous but your righteousness has to have a good result.
TAPE # 485 (November 1983)