- 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.
Top Posts & Pages
Monthly Archives: December 2009
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 4:3-4 As we have already discussed, there is a tendency to denigrate a fellow Jew whom we see transgressing, and thereby achieve a momentary “high.” On the other hand, the Torah has … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 4:1-2 It is a law of “loshon hora physics” that when one speaks loshon hora about the spiritual failings of someone else, that loshon hora is most intense and righteously indignant. Unfortunately, … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 3:7-8 Imagine if there existed a spiritual secret which would ensure that all your actions would be viewed in Heaven in a positive light. Heavenly angels would come to your defense and … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 3:5-6 One of the basic premises of the prohibition against loshon hora is that loshon hora causes damage. Jobs are lost, prospective shidduchim (marriage matches) are rejected, shalom bayis (harmony within the … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 3:3-4 The crucial point about humor is that its enjoyment is dependent upon which side of the joke you are on. Think back to the last time a group of people laughed … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 3:1-2 In this segment, the Chofetz Chaim discusses several well-known misconceptions concerning loshon hora. To the person who says, “It is not loshon hora because it will never get back to the … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 2:12-13 If one were to conduct an exit poll at the conclusion of a lecture, he might possibly hear dozens of varying opinions on how well the lecturer spoke. While many of … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 2:11 Any salesman can tell you from experience that people are very uncomfortable saying “no.” They will come up with all types of ingenious excuses in order to avoid a flat refusal … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 2:9 – 10 If you have ever been present while a group of people discuss someone in depth, you have probably observed the great human impulse toward amateur psychoanalysis. Such discussions usually … Continue reading