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Good And Evil Speech

Likutei Halachos on Parshas Pinchas

Translated by Dov Grant 

Bemidbar 25:11 "Pinchas…turned away my wrath from the children of Israel…"

Zimri, prince of Shimon, was guilty of p’gam ha’bris/blemishing the Covenant (sexual transgression) when he took Kozbi, the Midianite woman, in full view of all the Jewish people. Pinchas attained the priesthood by merit of his zealousness for Hashem in that incident. He drew to the world the concept of tikkun ha’bris/rectification of sexual misdemeanor, meriting the priesthood, related to the idea of “holy love that dwells next to the point” that is the covenant of peace – as it states “I give him My covenant of peace”.
The entire action of Pinchas against Midianite marriage was a tikkun/rectification to subdue and annul the klippah/evil force of Bilaam, as expressed later (31:16): “These [Midianite women] caused the children of Israel to revolt against Hashem – through the word of Bilaam…” For Bilaam was the very personification of p’gam ha’bris. He was extremely sick, disgusting and abominable in this respect. As Chazal/our Sages tell us (Sanhedrin 106): “He was drawn after this desire his entire life”. He didn’t even attempt to abandon his heart’s desires, as he could have, through Holy Speech.

For Holy Speech is an aspect of “the Three Points” (see Likutei Moharan 34). This is the Holy Speech between a person and his Creator; between a person and his fellow about fear of G-d; between a person and a tzaddik. With Holy Speech, even the most utterly despicable person can exit the very pits of spiritual descent and merit ascending to closeness to Hashem.

The wicked Bilaam and his students have no desire for such Holy Speech. It’s bad enough that they’re so greatly drawn after sexual desire – but not to attempt Holy Speech in the three aspects? And to add insult to injury – they actually sully their power of speech. They defile their G-d given power of speech with levity, gossip and slander, words of futility and bad language. They are especially guilty of bad mouthing true tzaddikim and honest people, through which they for sure place themselves far from “the Three Points”. In consequence, they sink themselves lower and lower into their wicked desires. And it’s not enough that they thereby damage themselves. Rather, they also desire to harm all of the Jewish people. Their evil words, that are an aspect of the wicked Bilaam, distance people from positive self-appraisal. Thank G-d, we have true tzaddikim that illuminate the good points of every Jew through their appropriate, encouraging speech.

Orach Chaim Hilchos Nisias Kappayim 5:12