Please Learn in the Merit of:

Please learn for the merit of a complete recovery for the following individuals:

Ya'akov Don ben Esther Ahuvah Sharona
Avraham Yishayahu ben Aviva
Perel Leah bas Sima

Please learn in the merit/memory of Eyal ben Uriel, Gil-Ad Michael ben Ophir, Ya'akov Naftali ben Avraham, and Alter Aryeh Leib Reuven ben Sima

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Shmiras HaLashon כ"א חשון - Cheshvan 21 - Fifty-First Day

© 2006 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

Chapter 12

[In this chapter, we] Shall Explain [Concerning] the Matter of being Cautious [to Avoid] the Sin of Lashon HaRa and Rechilus

In addition [to that which we have learned in the previous chapter regarding peace], you should know, that one who wishes to merit [attaining] the attribute of peace, must also guard himself from coming to accept Lashon HaRa and Rechilus. For, aside from the greatness of the punishment that exists for [partaking in Lashon HaRa and Rechilus], as our Sages of Blessed Memory have said [in maseches Pisachim, 118a]: “All those who accept Lashon HaRa [as true], it is fitting to throw him to the dogs, as it says, “You shall not bear a false rumor” (Shmos: 23; 1), which is juxtaposed [with the phrase] “to the dog you shall throw it.”” Furthermore, [as a result of involvement in the sin of Lashon HaRa or Rechilus], a person eventually comes to [involve himself in] baseless hatred, quarrels, and arguments. [Lashon HaRa and Rechilus often lead to the aforementioned unfortunate results], since from the start, the person accepts the matter [conveyed through the forbidden speech], as true. The individual [who accepts the Lashon HaRa or Rechilus], believes that a given individual spoke [negatively] against him or performed a given offense against him. [Due to his acceptance of the veracity of the Lashon HaRa or Rechilus], it is consequently virtually impossible that he will subsequently restrain himself from distressing his fellow and quarreling with him. In the end, the matter results [in these two individuals] becoming very hateful of one another, each one wanting to swallow the blood of his fellow and [each] being happy at the misfortune [of the other]. All of these [egregious results] came about through [the individuals] acceptance [of Lashon HaRa or Rechilus], for, from the start, he accepted the matter [related] as being completely true. [Instead of jumping to accept the Lashon HaRa or Rechilus as true], had [the individual] followed the path of the Torah, he would not have arrived [at these unfortunate results in which he has become an enemy of the other individual]. For [it is the way of the Torah] that when one approaches [a person], and relates to him how a given individual [wronged him] and spoke such-and-such about him, he should think in his mind: “Perhaps this information is false from its core, or [perhaps the informer] embellished by adding a bit of falsehood which could completely change [the story that was related from what truly occurred]. Otherwise, perhaps if [the informant] did not add anything [while relaying the matter], maybe he did not relay the entire [episode] as it transpired, leaving out some [essential] words, or [perhaps] he related [the matter] with a different tone of voice, thereby completely changing the matter, [as conveyed to the listener, thereby leading him to misunderstand what truly took place. Otherwise], one should think of any other facet of innocence relating to that person, [by thinking] that the matter was done unintentionally or [presume] any other similar [explanation for the person’s behavior that would indicate his innocence]. By [acting in the way of the Torah, as stated above], this matter would not have [led] to quarrels and arguments, [and similarly would not have resulted] in [the sin of] baseless hatred.

[Chofetz Chaim’s note: However, in such a matter, the Yetzer HaRa wants the person to accept the Lashon HaRa [as true, and therefore he] comes to the person and entices him [to accept the Lashon HaRa], saying: “How can I suspect that the individual who is relating the information would say something that did not occur, and which is false from its essence, or that he would add a bit of falsehood, and [thereby] transgress [the mitzvah of] “You shall distance yourself from a matter of falsehood…” (Shmos: 23; 7) In the same manner [that the Yetzer HaRa tries to encourage you to accept the Lashon HaRa, so
should you respond to him: “It is better for me to suspect the informant as having spoken that which is untrue against his fellow, than for me to believe that which he told me!” For if you would have seen someone wear shatnez[1] and who rounds off his sideburns and his beard[2], and, after [having noticed his secular appearance], he would then approach you and tell you that your fellow related some evil [speech] against you, wouldn’t you definitely [refuse to] accept the matter as true? [Whereupon hearing this individual relating this information against your fellow], you would respond to [him as follows]: “Leave me, I will not believe [that which you say] against my fellow! Since you [consider] the rest of the prohibitions of the Torah as ownerless as they relate to you, you have definitely [construed] the prohibition of falsehood [as being] permissible for yourself!” Isn’t the same [similarly] true [concerning the talebearer as is the case with the secular individual]? For even if the words of the speaker [of Lashon HaRa] reflect reality, [the informant has nevertheless] transgressed the Torah prohibition of “You shall not be a talebearer in your nation”, which is an exceedingly great prohibition, even when it involves the truth, as explained in all of the [works of the] poskim[3]. As [the informant comes to transgress this great prohibition of Rechilus], he is similarly suspected of fabricating that which is false from its essence in his heart, or, at the very least, to have incorporated a bit of falsehood into the issue [related], thereby completely changing the [the information relayed].

[1] Shatnez is clothing which is a mixture of linen and wool. The Torah prohibits a Jew from wearing such a garment, as it says, “You shall not wear Shatnez, a mixture of wool and linen.” (Devarim: 22; 11)

[2] The Torah prohibitions for rounding off the sideburns and destroying the beard are stated as follows: “You shall not round off your sideburns, and you shall not destroy the edges of your beard.” (Vayikra: 19; 27) RaSh”I explains that he makes the hair level above his temple, from his forehead to behind his ears. “Destroying the edges of the beard” refers to using an implement that can destroy the beard while shaving with it, that being by using a razor.

[3] “Poskim” refer to decisors of Jewish law.

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