In this week's Parshah of “Behaloscha” we read about the Pesach Sheini. We learn that after missing bringing the Korban Pesach on the eve of Pesach, this group approached Moshe Rabbeinu and lamented their missing this Mitzvah/event, and were looking to find a solution and a “redo”. In reply, Moshe gets a message from Hashem that those who missed the first time around may bring it a month later. This is unusual, for we don’t see this concept of a redo in regards to other Mitzvahs such as Matzoh, Shofar, Lulav, or Shabbat that one may have missed. I venture to say, that it was precisely because they felt the vacuum of this missing mitzvah, and precisely because they acted upon it, and were seeking a way to remedy this fault/vacuum, that they were given the opportunity to make good and retrieve a lost treasure.
In todays Corona era, as we sit here thrown out of our shuls, it is incumbent upon us to seek to be able to return, and I believe that, that is part of the formula of return. I am not going to pontificate as to why we have this era of Corona and issues, that is way above my pay grade, but let’s face it; Hashem threw us out of shul. Of course, there are all the “apparent reasons” but ultimately, we comprehend that this, as all else, is an act of G-D. Conversely, we see the Torah itself directly take to task someone who while witnessing tragedy and chaos is indifferent and says “I’m good, nothing to see here”. To such a person Hashem says; “I will personally deal with him in regards to all these curses. Hashem does not want to forgive him (Deut. 29’ 18”).
Tangentially, we do learn something from all this in anticipation of Mashiach (who is tasked with ushering in a higher level of spirituality, and a recognition of the existence of Hashem.) When the third and final temple will be built, everyone will have to be mindful of being Tohar (pure) or Tomei (impure). Just as a Kohen may not impurify himself by entering a cemetery or an ongoing funeral, there will be many forms of impurity that everyone will have to guard against. Examples of these impure states are cemeteries, certain dead rodents, bodily emission both male and female, and other items, AND coming into physical contact, meaning touching or leaning, with someone who is impure. Anyone wanting to enter the Temple or eat from Korbanos/sacrifices will have to undergo a purity ritual including immersion in a kosher mikveh. To guard against unwanted touching, imagine all the social distancing that will be de-rigueur, and certainly no random handshaking or two cheek kisses. So, Hashem is just getting us used to it.
We were thrown out of shul. Generally, if someone is expelled it’s for disturbing, just as a host will mute you in a zoom meeting if you disrupt, or the boss at a meeting or the teacher in class. So just how bad is talking during the Amidah repetition? Well the Shulchan Orach tells us; (124’ 7”) he is a sinner, we admonish him publicly, and “his sin is an unbearable sin”. The only other time we find this expression, is when Kayin killed his brother Hevel. (Genesis 4’13”).
So how bad is talking by the Amida repetition? And missing Amain? (See Nitei Gavriel introduction to Kaddish Pg. 279) There are 7 levels in hell, plus an eighth on the floor of this pit- twice as dark and of double intensity. The “up to” 12-month journey of a soul being cleansed, provides for up to a month and a half for each stage This bottom layer, is reserved for the cleansing of those who neglected saying Amain. The Mourner’s Kaddish which provides relief and elevation to the Neshomah, can not address anything else before it addresses and cleanses the sin of not answering Amain, which corresponds to the first month and a half of the soul’s journey. (There are other delays known as Kaf Hakelah & Chibut Hakever, potentially a very tough part of the journey home, but generally, as a rule, those who repent before passing away, are granted a direct route to begin the cleansing process.) To complicate matters, I have seen somewhere that the kaddish said for a blatant and habitual talker is painful to the soul, for it lays bare the deceased’s disrespect to Kaddish and Amain, so why should the deceased benefit from this fresh kaddish. Nevertheless, ultimately, notwithstanding the shame of this, the kaddish in its holiness of uplifting all of creation, benefits the soul, for it is this soul that has caused that someone, to say this kaddish.
In summary, as I see it, the shul and the Amidah are a moment in time that the congregation both individually and collectively communicates directly with Hashem. If one talks during this Amidah he is effectively disregarding the current proceedings and is inherently dissing G-D.
The Mishnah Berura (ad loc.) adds that it is appropriate to appoint people to make sure no one talks. This I believe is the answer. If we promise not to talk at least by the Amidah repetition, and have each shul appoint three people in charge of this, Hashem will let us back in happily.