- 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: July 2011
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM When an Act is justified Speaking rechilus is prohibited even when it is made clear that the act committed was totally justified. It is therefore forbidden to tell someone that another person spoke negatively of him for … Continue reading
Shmiras Haloshon Yomi SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Laws of Loshon Hora 8:8-9 Putting Out the Fire In this segment, the Chofetz Chaim discusses the issue of loshon hora as it relates to machlokes (dispute). Specifically, he deals with how and when … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Rechilus: A Definition While the verse “Do not go as a gossipmonger among your people” (Vayikra 19:16), prohibits all forms of loshon hora, the term “gossipmonger,” refers specifically to rechilus, information that potentially can cause ill will … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Repentance The standard order of teshuvah (repentance) for sins between man and G-d is: confession, regret and resolution never to repeat the act in the future. One who willfully listened as someone related loshon hora is required … Continue reading
Shmiras Haloshon Yomi SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Laws of Loshon Hora 8:7 Defining the Apikoros 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 … Continue reading
Shmiras Haloshon Yomi SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Laws of Loshon Hora 8:5-6 Torah Scholars 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 … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM The Habitual Sinner The prohibition of accepting loshon hora does not apply when the subject is known to regularly engage in the negative behavior under discussion. Thus, if on a number of occasions one has personally witnessed … Continue reading
Shmiras Haloshon Yomi SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Laws of Loshon Hora 8:3-4 Children 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 … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Confirming Suspicions The Torah does not accept circumstantial evidence as proof of a person’s guilt. Thus, when one suspects an individual of improper behavior, he may not decide that his suspicions are correct based on the person’s … Continue reading