SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM
It is a parent’s responsibility to sensitize his or her child to the evils of loshon hora and help the child to develop self-control in this area. At the same time, it is a parent’s responsibility to provide his or her child with emotional support and assistance. The overzealous parent can cause a child irreparable harm by forever scolding when reassurance is in order; however, failure to discipline one’s child is no less harmful. One must learn to discern between situations where a child is relating an incident because he needs his parent’s help, and when he is speaking loshon hora for no good reason.
A child should be taught that if interesting events of the day include negative facts about others, then names should be omitted. To relate how a certain child misbehaved in class is to speak loshon hora, even if what that child did was clever and amusing. Conversely, it is perfectly correct for a child to reveal the identity of a boy who interferes with his own activity or disrupts him during class time.
SEFER SHMIRAS HALOSHON
The Unity of the Jewish People
The following sublime insight is found in S’mag (9); its source is Talmud Yerushalmi (Nedarim 9:4):
Suppose a man were walking along a path and one of his feet would trip over the other, causing him to fall to the ground and suffer cuts and bruises. Would he seek revenge of the “guilty” foot and refrain from trying to heal its wounds? Would he harbor any ill will toward that foot? Obviously not, for his feet, hands, face, etc. are all parts of one body — his own. If anything, he might reflect upon his deeds, and view his sins as the true cause of his mishap.
Similarly, if a neighbor refuses to do a favor that one has asked of him, or even if he has caused one heartache or has shamed him in any way, one should not seek revenge or bear a grudge against him. For who is “oneself” and who is “one’s fellow”? — both stem from the same source, as it is written, “And who is like Your nation, Israel, one nation on earth?’’ (I Divrei HaYamim 17:21).
The Torah states: “All the souls of the house of Yaakov who came to Egypt, seventy” (Bereishis 46:27). The Hebrew word for souls is nefashos. Yet in this verse, the singular form, nefesh, is used, alluding to the fact that in Heaven, the souls of the people of Israel are like one. Each Jewish soul, while part of one whole, is distinct and unique, like a person whose body is a single unit comprised of many individual parts, each with its own distinct and unique function. All Jewish souls will eventually be gathered in to one source, beneath the Heavenly Throne, as it is written, “And the soul of my master shall be bound in the bond of life” (I Shmuel 25:29).
It is only in this world, where each soul is clothed in its own physical body and is involved in its own personal matters, that one sees himself as a distinct entity, apart from his fellow Jew. In truth, however, all Jews are one in a very real sense.