SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Preface (Continued)
Previously, the Chofetz Chaim explained the true source of this ongoing exile. He stated that the sins of loshon hora and sinas chinam (baseless hatred) of past generations would not cause Hashem (G-d) to withhold His Presence from us. It is our own sins that keep Hashem from drawing near to us, despite our constant prayers.
The Chofetz Chaim says that if we analyze our sins, there is only one that can be so powerful as to cause Hashem not to redeem His beloved children — the sin of loshon hora. It is simple logic. If loshon hora, and the sinas chinam which it caused, had the negative spiritual power to destroy the Beis HaMikdash, then certainly it has the power to prevent the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash.
The Chofetz Chaim brings many sources to support this point. In Parashas Shemos, the Torah relates the suffering of the Jews in Egypt. The Torah states that Moshe, who had grown up in Pharaoh’s palace, went out among his people and shared their pain and suffering. In his wanderings among the Jews, he encountered the notorious pair, Dasan and Aviram who informed on him after he killed an Egyptian who was attacking a Jew. Moshe said, “Now the matter is known” (Shemos 2:15). The Midrash interprets this to mean, “Now I understand why the Jewish people are in this terrible exile. It is because they speak loshon hora.”
The Chofetz Chaim also cites the episode of the Spies who were sent to scout out the Land of Israel in preparation for the Jews’ conquest of it. Their negative report was loshon hora against Hashem’s precious Holy Land. The Jews wept over this report on the night of Tishah B’Av (the ninth of Av), and it was this sin that ultimately led to the destruction of the first Beis HaMikdash (Holy Temple). Hashem declared, “You wept in vain. I will establish this night as a night of weeping for all generations.”
The Chofetz Chaim provides further proof. The Torah states “Cursed is he who attacks his friend secretly” (Devarim 27:24). As Rashi explains, this is a reference to loshon hora. A person who speaks loshon hora is cursed. The Talmud (Arachin 15b) goes further, comparing loshon hora to a denial of G-d.
The Chofetz Chaim then offers his final point. The Midrash (Devarim Rabbah 6,14) states, “Hashem says, In this world, because there is loshon hora among you, I withdrew My Presence from among you.” Like a letter directly from Hashem – clear and unambiguous.
The message of this statement is incredible. The Beis HaMikdash has not been rebuilt, the Shechinah (Divine Presence) is not in our midst, because of the forbidden speech which we utter.
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