SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 1:5 – 6
Imagine a situation involving a Torah-observant person who works at a large corporation. His boss calls him in one day and says, “There’s an industry meeting this Saturday in Pittsburgh and we need you to be there to represent us.” Certainly, the person would refuse to desecrate Shabbos even if this meant losing his job. Losing one’s source of livelihood is a very difficult matter, yet many would be happy to make this sacrifice for the sake of Shabbos. The Chofetz Chaim teaches us that, similarly, one should be prepared to lose his job rather than transgress the laws of loshon hora, which are prescribed by the Torah.
A person may find himself working for an employer who is perfectly comfortable with character defamation and slander, to the extent that he may view as a fool an employee who does not join in his verbal abuse, and he may be inclined to fire such a person.
This, in fact, is common with salesmen whose company’s standard sales strategy is to “knock” the competition. Honest salesmanship does not preclude saying, “My product has certain qualities that my competition lacks.” What is prohibited is criticizing the competition unnecessarily or by exaggeration.
Furthermore, when speaking loshon hora, one usually transgresses several Torah prohibitions. Each additional prohibition is another reason to undertake sacrifices rather than speak loshon hora.
If we could listen to the inner voice of a person who is willing to lose his job for the sake of Shabbos, we would hear him telling himself, “I understand that I am facing tremendous difficulties by giving up my job, but it is well worth it! How can I even think of desecrating Hashem’s precious day of Shabbos?” When faced with the test of loshon hora, our intuitive response should be the same: ”True, I am facing tremendous difficulties by refusing to participate in such conversations, but it is well worth it! How can I even think of transgressing these all-important commandments of Hashem? How can I entertain the possibility of taking part in that which is the primary cause of our current exile? No sacrifice is too great for the sake of shmiras haloshon!”
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