- 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.
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Monthly Archives: February 2010
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Laws of Loshon Hora 8:7 The Chofetz Chaim writes that it is permitted, and at times even a mitzvah, to speak loshon hora about an apikoros. The Chofetz Chaim defines apikoros as someone “who denies the Torah … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 8:5-6 This segment begins with the Chofetz Chaim informing us of how terrible it is to speak loshon hora about a talmid chacham (Torah scholar). Obviously, we are obligated to honor Torah … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 8:3-4 It is forbidden to speak derogatorily about children.1 While adults understand that “kids are kids” and their negative behavior is often excused as normal immaturity, if the information casts this particular … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 8:1-2 In this section, the Chofetz Chaim focuses on the players in the sin of loshon hora: the speaker, the listener and the subject. He begins with some important rules about the … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 7:13-14 If you have ever been approached by a person involved in a monetary dispute, you have probably found that in his opinion, his opponent is completely in the wrong with no … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 7:11-12 In the previous segment, the Chofetz Chaim introduced us to the concept of “Devarim Hanikarim” recognizable signs (i.e. circumstantial proof) as a basis for believing certain forms of loshon hora. There … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 7:10 In this segment, the Chofetz Chaim examines the concept of Devarim Hanikarim, recognizable signs, as it applies to the laws of loshon hora. From a Talmudic interpretation of a story in … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 7:9 The concept in halachah of Mesiach L’fi Tumo accords a casual remark made in conversation the status of testimony in beis din (rabbinical court). The classic case where this rule is … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 7:7-8 In this segment, the Chofetz Chaim begins discussing three situations where seemingly there is reason to allow the listener to accept loshon hora as fact. These situations are: 1. Where the … Continue reading