- BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא
The Chafetz Chaim lists 31 mitzvot which may be violated when a person speaks or listens to Lashon Hara. This is a staggering number. Even though one does not generally violate them all in one shot, it is important to remember how carelessness can lead one into deeper trouble.
The central prohibition against unethical speech is Leviticus 19:16 - "Lo telech rachil b'ameicha" -- do not go about as a talebearer among your people. [FYI: Rashi's commentary on this verse is a "classic." He discusses the origins of the word rachil (a roving merchant), and a few divergent ideas about the Hebrew language.]
This verse in Leviticus applies equally to Rechilut and Lashon Hara (abbr.: L"H). The Chafetz Chaim gives their exact definitions, but for clarity we should mention them here:
- Lashon Hara - any derogatory or damaging (physically, financially, socially, or stress-inducing) communication.
- Rechilut - any communication that generates animosity between people.
It is certainly good to be aware of the various mitzvot. However, the halachot discussed in the Chafetz Chaim are more specific, basically revolving around "Lo telech rachil b'ameicha," "B'tzedek tishpot et amiteicha," and "hocheiach tochiach et amiteicha." The Chafetz Chaim delineates different situations and conditions, and identifies when the speech is forbidden, permissible, and even desirable.
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Monthly Archives: November 2009
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Introduction: Positive Commandments 13 – 14 When relating the bad points of another person — especially when one becomes swept up in telling a story — it is natural to exaggerate for dramatic effect. The Chofetz … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Introduction: Positive Commandments 11 – 12 One of the great recent innovations in the computer industry is multi-tasking, meaning that computers now have the ability to run several software programs simultaneously. The Chofetz Chaim tells us … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Introduction: Positive Commandments 9 – 10 In this segment, the Chofetz Chaim adds another dimension to the issue of loshon hora, focusing on additional sins that can be transgressed when loshon hora is spoken about certain … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Introduction: Positive Commandments 7 – 8 After the Destruction of the Beis Hamikdash (Temple), Hashem gave us a vital gift which would enable us to survive this long and bitter exile. He allowed the Shechinah (Divine … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Introduction: Positive Commandments 5 – 6 Imagine meeting a friend of yours as he exits a restaurant that was once kosher but was recently taken over by non-Jews and is no longer kosher. Your friend was … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Introduction: Positive Commandments 3 – 4 If we were to search for the first spark of loshon hora as it begins to develop in a person’s mind, we would find it in the part of the … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Introduction: Positive Commandments 1 – 2 When trying to impress a class of students about the evils of loshon hora, the average teacher would probably use examples of serious cases in which a person’s reputation or … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Introduction: Negative Commandments 16 – 17 The Chofetz Chaim confronts us with a classic scenario in office politics: A few employees are speaking with the boss and someone mentions a person whom the boss is known … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Introduction: Negative Commandments 14 – 15 The Chofetz Chaim now discusses a more severe level of ona’as devarim (verbal abuse). If one relates something negative to others while the subject is present, causing that person not … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Introduction: Negative Commandments 12 – 13 A frequent result of speaking loshon hora and especially rechilus (gossip) is machlokes (dispute or controversy). The president of a school is unhappy with the executive director’s efforts in an … Continue reading