SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Introduction: Negative Commandments 10 – 11
The Torah tells us that a minimum of two witnesses is needed for testimony in beis din (rabbinical court). If only one person came to beis din to testify against someone, the beis din would not be allowed to accept his testimony. In that case, the testimony would serve no constructive purpose and would be considered loshon hora. In addition, the witness would transgress the prohibition of “A single witness shall not stand up against any man for any wrongdoing” (Devarim 19:15).
The Chofetz Chaim lists yet another prohibition which we can explain as follows: When his life on this world ends, the average person will come before the Heavenly Court and justify all the loshon hora he spoke, with one simple claim — he was a victim of circumstance. He will say that he had no real interest in loshon hora, but all around him people were speaking it, so he really had no choice. In effect, he will say that society made him do it!
The Chofetz Chaim warns us, while we still can do something about it, that this is no defense. In fact, this claim is actually a further indictment, because places that are conducive to speaking loshon hora are off limit to a G-d fearing Jew, as the Torah states “Do not associate with the majority for evil” (Shemos 23:2).
The Chofetz Chaim teaches us a valuable lesson here, which applies to all aspects of life. People tend to gravitate to places which define their own station in life. They choose where they live, where they pray, who their friends are and what is important to them. Occasionally, a person is truly a victim of circumstance, but for the most part “the place” he makes for himself in this world bears his own unique signature. The Chofetz Chaim advises us, “Make it a good place.”
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