SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 5:1
In this segment, the Chofetz Chaim focuses on the mitzvah to extend loans to a fellow Jew. As the Torah states:” … When you lend money to My people …” (Shemos 22:24).
Consider the following situation:
You have a friend who is in need of a loan. He approaches someone you know and asks to borrow some money, but the prospective lender refuses, with the explanation that he cannot afford to extend a loan at this time. However, you happen to know the lender and you know for a fact that he does have the means to extend the loan. You assume that the real reason for his refusal is that he happens to be selfish.
Telling others of the person’s refusal to extend the loan is loshon hora. This is so even in a case where you witnessed the wrongdoing and even if your purpose in telling others is to protest the injustice done.
If the prospective borrower, in a desire to “get even,” tells others what happened, then he also transgresses the negative commandments against taking revenge and bearing a grudge (Vayikra 19:18).
The case of a loan request which was refused is used by the Chofetz Chaim as an example of loshon hora involving a person’s faults bein adam l’chaveiro, between man and his fellow. Similarly, it is forbidden to mention that someone is lacking in any of the interpersonal obligations which the Torah places upon us.
Even if a person were to repeatedly transgress one of these mitzvos—for example, he never extends loans despite the fact that he is fabulously wealthy –— it is forbidden to speak of it. As the Chofetz Chaim explains, we cannot categorize such a person as a rasha (wicked individual) because, unfortunately, many people mistakenly think of such obligations as being voluntary. Thus, they do not see themselves as sinners at all.
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