Chapter 4ד׳
1 א

אַרְבָעָה וְעֶשְׂרִים דְּבָרִים מְעַכְּבִין אֶת הַתְּשׁוּבָה. אַרְבָּעָה מֵהֶן עָוֹן גָּדוֹל וְהָעוֹשֶׂה אֶחָד מֵהֶן אֵין הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַסְפִּיק בְּיָדוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה לְפִי גֹּדֶל חֶטְאוֹ. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. א) הַמַּחְטִיא אֶת הָרַבִּים וּבִכְלַל עָוֹן זֶה הַמְעַכֵּב אֶת הָרַבִּים מִלַּעֲשׂוֹת מִצְוָה. ב) וְהַמַּטֶּה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ מִדֶּרֶךְ טוֹבָה לְרָעָה כְּגוֹן מֵסִית וּמַדִּיחַ. ג) הָרוֹאֶה בְּנוֹ יוֹצֵא לְתַרְבּוּת רָעָה וְאֵינוֹ מְמַחֶה בְּיָדוֹ. הוֹאִיל וּבְנוֹ בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ אִלּוּ מִחָה בּוֹ הָיָה פּוֹרֵשׁ וְנִמְצָא כְּמַחְטִיאוֹ. וּבִכְלַל עָוֹן זֶה כָּל שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר בְּיָדוֹ לִמְחוֹת בַּאֲחֵרִים בֵּין יָחִיד בֵּין רַבִּים וְלֹא מִחָה אֶלָּא יַנִּיחֵם בְּכִשְׁלוֹנָם. ד) וְהָאוֹמֵר אֶחְטָא וְאָשׁוּב וּבִכְלַל זֶה הָאוֹמֵר אֶחְטָא וְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים מְכַפֵּר:

Twenty-four different transgressions withhold the acceptance of repentance, four of these are of great iniquity, and whosoever commits one of them, the Holy One, blessed is He! provides no means for him to repent, measured, of course, with the monstrosity of his sin. They are: (1) he who leads the public to sin, by which is also included one who witholds the public from performing a commandment; (2) he who diverts his neighbor from the good path to an evil one, for instance, a seducer and an enticer; (3) he who beholds his son cultivating bad habits and does not protest against it, for, his son being under his control, probably, by having protested, he could have separated him therefrom, as a consequence whereof it is as if he himself led him to sin; by which is also included the iniquity of every one who has a possibility to protest against others, whether individuals or many, and does not protest against them but leaves them to their stumbling; (4) he who says: "I will sin and repent"; by which is also included one who says: "I will sin and the Day of Atonement will atone".

2 ב

וּמֵהֶן חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים הַנּוֹעֲלִים דַּרְכֵי הַתְּשׁוּבָה בִּפְנֵי עוֹשֵׂיהֶן. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. א) הַפּוֹרֵשׁ מִן הַצִּבּוּר, לְפִי שֶׁבִּזְמַן שֶׁיַּעֲשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה לֹא יִהְיֶה עִמָּהֶן וְאֵינוֹ זוֹכֶה עִמָּהֶן בִּזְכוּת שֶׁעוֹשִׂין. ב) וְהַחוֹלֵק עַל דִּבְרֵי חֲכָמִים, לְפִי שֶׁמַּחְלָקְתוֹ גּוֹרֶמֶת לוֹ לִפְרשׁ מֵהֶן וְאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ דַּרְכֵי הַתְּשׁוּבָה. ג) וְהַמַּלְעִיג עַל הַמִּצְוֹת, שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁנִּתְבַּזּוּ בְּעֵינָיו אֵינוֹ רוֹדֵף אַחֲרֵיהֶן וְלֹא עוֹשָׂן וְאִם לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה בַּמֶּה יִזְכֶּה. ד) וְהַמְבַזֶּה רַבּוֹתָיו, שֶׁדָּבָר זֶה גּוֹרֵם לוֹ לְדָחֳפוֹ וּלְטָרְדוֹ כְּגֵיחֲזִי וּבִזְמַן שֶׁנִּטְרָד לֹא יִמְצָא מְלַמֵּד וּמוֹרֶה לוֹ דֶּרֶךְ הָאֱמֶת. ה) וְהַשּׂוֹנֵא אֶת הַתּוֹכָחוֹת שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא הִנִּיחַ לוֹ דֶּרֶךְ תְּשׁוּבָה. שֶׁהַתּוֹכָחָה גּוֹרֶמֶת לִתְשׁוּבָה שֶׁבִּזְמַן שֶׁמּוֹדִיעִין לוֹ לָאָדָם חֲטָאָיו וּמַכְלִימִין אוֹתוֹ חוֹזֵר בִּתְשׁוּבָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה (דברים ט ז) "זְכֹר (וְ) אַל תִּשְׁכַּח". (דברים ט ז) "מַמְרִים הֱיִיתֶם". (דברים כט ג) "וְלֹא נָתַן ה' לָכֶם לֵב". (דברים לב ו) "עַם נָבָל וְלֹא חָכָם". וְכֵן יְשַׁעְיָהוּ הוֹכִיחַ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַר (ישעיה א ד) "הוֹי גּוֹי חֹטֵא". (ישעיה א ג) "יָדַע שׁוֹר קֹנֵהוּ". (ישעיה מח ד) "מִדַּעְתִּי כִּי קָשֶׁה אָתָּה". וְכֵן צִוָּהוּ הָאֵל לְהוֹכִיחַ לַחַטָּאִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה נח א) "קְרָא בְגָרוֹן אַל תַּחְשֹׂךְ". וְכֵן כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים הוֹכִיחוּ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל עַד שֶׁחָזְרוּ בִּתְשׁוּבָה. לְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ לְהַעֲמִיד בְּכָל קָהָל וְקָהָל מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל חָכָם גָּדוֹל וְזָקֵן וִירֵא שָׁמַיִם מִנְּעוּרָיו וְאָהוּב לָהֶם שֶׁיְּהֵא מוֹכִיחַ לָרַבִּים וּמַחֲזִירָן בִּתְשׁוּבָה, וְזֶה שֶּׁשּׂוֹנֵא אֶת הַתּוֹכָחוֹת אֵינוֹ בָּא לַמּוֹכִיחַ וְלֹא שׁוֹמֵעַ דְּבָרָיו לְפִיכָךְ יַעֲמֹד בְּחַטֹּאתָיו שֶׁהֵם בְּעֵינָיו טוֹבִים:

Among this group of twenty-four are five transgressions which block the way of repentance against the sinners, they are: (1) he who secedes from the community, for he would be absent at the time they repent and could not acquire aught in their virtuous performance; (2) He who opposes the decisions of the sages, for his opposition to them brings about his own separation from them, and he knows not the path leading to repentance; (3) he who disdains the precepts, for as they appear debased to him he does not pursue after them nor perform them, and without performance what virtue can he attain? (4) he who insults his masters, for such conduct brings about his displacement and repudiation, even as it happened to Gehazi2See II. Kings, 4.1G., and being repudiated he will not find a teacher to guide him to the path of truth; (5) He who despises criticism for he, indeed, left no path open for repentance, as it is criticism that begets repentance. Forsooth, when a man is informed that his sins are known, and that he should be ashamed of himself for his wrongdoings, he does repent. For example: it written in the Torah: "Remember, forget thou not, how thou didst make the Lord thy God wroth in the wilderness; from the day that thou didst go forth out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the Lord" (Deut. 9.7), and: "But the Lord hath not given you a heart to know" (Ibid. 29.3), and: "A foolish people and unwise" (Ibid. 32.6); and Isaiah, likewise, rebuked Israel and exclaimed: "Ah sinful nation!" (Is. 1.4) and, "The ox knoweth his owner" (Ibid. –3), and, "Because I knew that thou are obstinate" (Ibid. 48.4). Almighty, too, charged him to rebuke the sinners, saying: "Cry aloud, spare not" (Is. 58. 1). In like manner did all of the prophets criticise Israel until they turned in repentance. It is, therefore, necessary to appoint over each and every community in Israel a great scholar of mature age, God-fearing since his early youth, and loved by them, people, to preach to the public and turn them to repentance. But he who despises criticism does not come to hear the preacher and does not pay attention to his words, he, therefore, holds on to his sins, which to his eyes appear to be good.3Alfasi, Yoma, Chapter 8. 7a. G.

3 ג

וּמֵהֶם חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים הָעוֹשֶׂה אוֹתָן אִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ שֶׁיָּשׁוּב בִּתְשׁוּבָה גְּמוּרָה לְפִי שֶׁהֵם עֲוֹנוֹת שֶׁבֵּין אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ וְאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ חֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁחָטָא לוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁיַּחֲזִיר לוֹ אוֹ יִשְׁאַל מִמֶּנּוּ לִמְחל לוֹ. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. א) הַמְקַלֵּל אֶת הָרַבִּים וְלֹא קִלֵּל אָדָם יָדוּעַ כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּשְׁאַל מִמֶּנּוּ כַּפָּרָה. ב) וְהַחוֹלֵק עִם גַּנָּב, שֶׁלְּפִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ גְּנֵבָה זוֹ שֶׁל מִי הִיא אֶלָּא הַגַּנָּב גּוֹנֵב לָרַבִּים וּמֵבִיא לוֹ וְהוּא לוֹקֵחַ. וְעוֹד שֶׁהוּא מַחֲזִיק יַד הַגַּנָּב וּמַחְטִיאוֹ. ג) וְהַמּוֹצֵא אֲבֵדָה וְאֵינוֹ מַכְרִיז עָלֶיהָ עַד שֶׁיַּחֲזִירָהּ לִבְעָלֶיהָ, לְאַחַר זְמַן כְּשֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה תְּשׁוּבָה אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לְמִי יַחֲזִיר. ד) וְהָאוֹכֵל שׁוֹר עֲנִיִּים וִיתוֹמִים וְאַלְמָנוֹת. אֵלּוּ בְּנֵי אָדָם אֻמְלָלִין הֵם וְאֵינָן יְדוּעִים וּמְפֻרְסָמִים וְגוֹלִים מֵעִיר לְעִיר וְאֵין לָהֶם מַכִּיר כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּדַע שׁוֹר זֶה שֶׁל מִי הוּא וְיַחֲזִירֶנּוּ לוֹ. ה) וְהַמְקַבֵּל שֹׁחַד לְהַטּוֹת דִּין אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ עַד הֵיכָן הִגִּיעַ הַטָּיָה זוֹ וְכַמָּה הִיא כֹּחָהּ כְּדֵי שֶׁיַּחֲזִיר, שֶׁהַדָּבָר יֵשׁ לוֹ רַגְלַיִם. וְעוֹד שֶׁהוּא מַחֲזִיק יַד זֶה וּמַחְטִיאוֹ:

And, again, there are among this group of twenty-four, five transgressors, each of which, block the path of complete repentance for the one commits it, because they are sins between man and man, and the sinner does not know the neighbor against whom he sinned, to whom to make restitution or of whom to beg forgiveness. They are: (1) he who curses the public and did not curse a single man in particular to whom he might plead for pardon; (2) he who shares spoils with a thief, because he knows not to whom the stolen goods belong, for the thief steals at large and brings it to him and he becomes the fence, thereby adding to the iniquity by upholding the thief and leading him on to further sin; (3) he who finds a lost article and does not advertise it so as to restore it to its owner, thus after a process of time when he would repent he knows not to whom to make restitution; (4) he who partakes of an ox4Alfasi gives the text as Shod, (Spoils) not Shor (Ox). (Ibid). G. which is the property of the poor, the orphans or the widows, for such people are languid, unknown and un-heralded, wandering from city to city without a friend, and he, therefore, would not know to whom such ox belongs if he desired to make restitution; (5) he who takes bribery to pervert justice, for he knows not the extent of the perversion, or what its power is, as such matter has auxiliary factors, and, therefore, could possibly not estimate the amount of restitution; and he, moreover, is supporting the evil hand of the bribe-giver and thereby leads him on to sin.6Ibid. Alfasi. G.

4 ד

וּמֵהֶן חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים הָעוֹשֶׂה אוֹתָן אֵין חֶזְקָתוֹ לָשׁוּב מֵהֶן. לְפִי שֶׁהֵם דְּבָרִים קַלִּים בְּעֵינֵי רֹב הָאָדָם וְנִמְצָא חוֹטֵא וְהוּא יְדַמֶּה שֶׁאֵין זֶה חֵטְא. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. א) הָאוֹכֵל מִסְּעֻדָּה שֶׁאֵינָהּ מַסְפֶּקֶת לִבְעָלֶיהָ שֶׁזֶּה אֲבַק גֵּזֶל הוּא. וְהוּא מְדַמֶּה שֶׁלֹּא חָטָא וְיֹאמַר כְּלוּם אָכַלְתִּי אֶלָּא בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ. ב) הַמִּשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בַּעֲבוֹטוֹ שֶׁל עָנִי שֶׁהָעֲבוֹט שֶׁל עָנִי אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא כְּגוֹן קוֹרְדוֹם וּמַחֲרֵשָׁה וְיֹאמַר בְּלִבּוֹ אֵינָן חֲסֵרִים וַהֲרֵי לֹא גָּזַלְתִּי אוֹתוֹ. ג) הַמִּסְתַּכֵּל בַּעֲרָיוֹת מַעֲלֶה עַל דַּעְתּוֹ שֶׁאֵין בְּכָךְ כְּלוּם שֶׁהוּא אוֹמֵר וְכִי בָּעַלְתִּי אוֹ קָרַבְתִּי אֶצְלָהּ. וְהוּא אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁרְאִיַּת הָעֵינַיִם עָוֹן גָּדוֹל שֶׁהִיא גּוֹרֶמֶת לְגוּפָן שֶׁל עֲרָיוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר טו לט) "וְלֹא תָתֻרוּ אַחֲרֵי לְבַבְכֶם וְאַחֲרֵי עֵינֵיכֶם". ד) הַמִּתְכַּבֵּד בִּקְלוֹן חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹמֵר בְּלִבּוֹ שֶׁאֵינוֹ חֵטְא לְפִי שֶׁאֵין חֲבֵרוֹ עוֹמֵד שָׁם וְלֹא הִגִּיעַ לוֹ בּשֶׁת וְלֹא בִּיְּשׁוֹ אֶלָּא עָרַךְ מַעֲשָׂיו הַטּוֹבִים וְחָכְמָתוֹ לְמוּל מַעֲשֵׂה חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ חָכְמָתוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּרָאֶה מִכְּלָלוֹ שֶׁהוּא מְכֻבָּד וַחֲבֵרוֹ בָּזוּי. ה) וְהַחוֹשֵׁד כְּשֵׁרִים אוֹמֵר בְּלִבּוֹ שֶׁאֵינוֹ חֵטְא לְפִי שֶׁהוּא אוֹמֵר מֶה עָשִׂיתִי לוֹ וְכִי יֵשׁ שָׁם אֶלָּא חֲשָׁד שֶׁמָּא עָשָׂה אוֹ לֹא עָשָׂה וְהוּא אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁזֶּה עָוֹן שֶׁמֵּשִׂים אָדָם כָּשֵׁר בְּדַעְתּוֹ כְּבַעַל עֲבֵרָה:

And, there are, furthermore, five transgressions among this group of twenty-four, the presumption of one who commits each and every one of them being against his inclination to turn toward repentance, because the majority of people consider them of minor importance, as a consequence whereof one stoops in sin imagining that what he does is no sin at all. They are: (1) he who dines at a table knowing that the meal is of insufficient quantity to satisfy even the appetite of the host, for such is an offshoot of robbery, whereas he imagines, saying: "Have I not eaten with the consent of the host?" (2) he who makes use of a poor man's pledge, for a poor man's pledge is none else save an article such as an axe or plough, whereas he will say in his imagination: "Nothing thereof was diminished, I have not robbed him"; (3) he who wantonly stares at the opposite sex, for he thinks that it is of no matter, saying: "Have I stilled an urge, or even been near her"? whereas he remains oblivious to the fact that purposeful eye-staring is a great iniquity and begets actual unchastity, even as it is said: "And that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes" (Num. 15.39); (4) he who acquires honor by disgracing his neighbor, for he thinks that he committed no sin, as his neighbor stood not by, and did not feel the shame, as he did not insult him personally, save by comparing his own good conduct and his own education against the conduct of his neighbor or his education so that the audience may infer that he is honorable and his neighbor disgraceful; (5) he who casts suspicion upon the upright, for he thinks within his heart that he sinned not, saying to himself: "What have I done to him, is there anything more to it than mere suspicion? perhaps he did it, and perhaps he did it not;" whereas he does realize that this is an iniquity to place an upright man in his mind on the same level with an evil-doer.7Ibid. G.

5 ה

וּמֵהֶן חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים הָעוֹשֶׂה אוֹתָם יִמָּשֵׁךְ אַחֲרֵיהֶם תָּמִיד וְקָשִׁים הֵם לִפְרשׁ מֵהֶן. לְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ אָדָם לְהִזָּהֵר מֵהֶן שֶׁמָּא יִדְבַּק בָּהֶן וְהֵן כֻּלָּן דֵּעוֹת רָעוֹת עַד מְאֹד. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. רְכִילוּת. וְלָשׁוֹן הָרַע. וּבַעַל חֵמָה. וּבַעַל מַחֲשָׁבָה רָעָה. וְהַמִּתְחַבֵּר לָרָשָׁע מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא לוֹמֵד מִמַּעֲשָׂיו וְהֵן נִרְשָׁמִים בְּלִבּוֹ. הוּא שֶׁאָמַר שְׁלֹמֹה (משלי יג כ) "וְרֹעֶה כְסִילִים יֵרוֹעַ". וּכְבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת דֵּעוֹת דְּבָרִים שֶׁצָּרִיךְ כָּל אָדָם לִנְהֹג בָּהֶן תָּמִיד, קַל וָחֹמֶר לְבַעַל תְּשׁוּבָה:

And among this group of twenty-four there are five such transgressions that whosoever commits them is continuously pursuing them, so that it becomes hard for him to separate himself from them. It is, therefore, necessary for a man to beware of them, lest they become part of his habits, for they are all extremely evil tendencies. They are: (1) sycophancy; (2) an evil tongue; (3) ill temper; (4) bad thoughts; (5) companionship with the wicked, for he learns his conduct and his actions become indited in his heart. Of such Solomon said: "But a companion of fools shall be shattered" (Prov. 13.20). Regarding this, we have already elucidated in the "Treatise of Ethics" how a man of the average should conduct himself, deduct the major from the minor for a penitent.8Ibid. G.

6 ו

כָּל אֵלּוּ הַדְּבָרִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמְּעַכְּבִין אֶת הַתְּשׁוּבָה אֵין מוֹנְעִין אוֹתָהּ אֶלָּא אִם עָשָׂה אָדָם תְּשׁוּבָה מֵהֶן הֲרֵי זֶה בַּעַל תְּשׁוּבָה וְיֵשׁ לוֹ חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא:

All the enumerated transgressions and their like, though they withold the sinners from turning to repentance they should not be prevented from doing so, for if a man did turn away from these in repentance, lo, he is a penitent, and he will inherit a share in the World to Come.