SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 4:5-6
In the previous segment, the Chofetz Chaim stressed that when rebuking someone, one must be careful to speak gently and with respect. Here the Chofetz Chaim deals with a different situation. What if you are fairly certain that the person will not heed your rebuke? In this case, you are required to seek someone — for example, a rav, dayan (judge) or parent — to whom the subject will listen, and relate the information to that individual. Make sure, however, that the following three conditions are met:
1. The person to whom you are relating the information must be someone who knows you and who will believe your report.
2. You must give over the information in a sensitive manner.
3. The person to whom you are relating the information must be someone who will handle the matter as discreetly as possible.
Given these conditions, it would be advisable to seek advice from a Torah authority before involving someone else in the process of rebuke.
From these laws, we learn how sensitive the Torah is towards the feelings of all people –- including sinners. Here we are dealing with a person who has sinned intentionally and is not receptive to criticism. Nevertheless, the Torah goes to extreme lengths to protect his reputation, to the point where rebuke is prohibited if it cannot be done in a discreet manner.
The underlying message of these laws is: we Jews are responsible for one another; therefore we have to be concerned when another Jew sins. But at the same time, we have to be equally concerned with protecting that Jew’s feelings, dignity and good name.
We should draw a lesson from these laws to be extremely sensitive to the feelings of every Jew and to avoid tarnishing another Jew’s image through words of loshon hora. By treating each other with love and respect, we will fortify our interpersonal relationships in the way which the Torah desires.
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