The Perennial Battle

Sefardi Beit Sefer

Pirkei Avos

Chapter 5, Mishna 11(c)

By Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld

“Pestilence comes to the world for death penalties mentioned in the Torah which are not in the hands of the courts [to administer] and for [the forbidden use of] Sabbatical year produce. The sword comes to the world for the delay of justice, the perversion of justice, and for those who expound the Torah not in accordance with Jewish law. Wild beasts come to the world for false oaths and the desecration of G-d’s Name. Exile comes to the world for idolatry, adultery, murder, and the working of the earth on the Sabbatical year.”

In the previous two classes, we discussed the concept of pestilence and the justice behind such a punishment — how it can be that G-d sometimes appears to judge in broad strokes, sweeping away the innocent together with the guilty. As several readers pointed out, the…

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