SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM
Exception to the Rule
We have already seen that one may not believe even his spouse or close confidants when they relate negative information about others. At most, he may consider the possibility that the information might be true.
The Talmud states that one exception to this rule is where the listener considers the speaker to be a man of unusual integrity whose words are weighed very carefully. Such a person can be trusted to relate an incident exactly as it happened, to the extent that the listener can consider himself as having witnessed it, and thus may accept the report as fact. Nevertheless, since the decision that the speaker is trustworthy is a personal one made by the listener, he cannot pass the information on to others as if he had witnessed it – even for a constructive purpose.
The Chofetz Chaim is of the opinion that today no one can claim to have the degree of integrity necessary for his words to be accepted as fact, and it is therefore forbidden for anyone to believe a negative statement on the basis of someone else’s report.
SEFER SHMIRAS HALOSHON
Those who are insulted and do not insult, who hear their disgrace and do not respond, who act out of love and are happy in their affliction, regarding them does Scripture state (Shoftim 5:31): “But they who love Him shall be like the sun going forth in its might” (Shabbos 88b).
The commentators understand this passage as enumerating three distinct levels of reaction to insult:
(1) Those who are insulted and do not insult, but they do respond in some way.
2) Those who hear their disgrace and do not respond at all, lest their response evoke further insult and disparagement. In their hearts, though, they harbor bitterness toward their abuser.
(3) Those who act out of love and are happy in their affliction, meaning, whose love of Hashem impels them not to respond to insult and to accept their affliction [i.e. disgrace] with gladness.
It is when a person attains this third and highest level that he merits the great reward with which the passage concludes. Such attainment is indicative of his sanctity of soul and pure faith in Hashem, Who guides the happenings of mankind, as it is written, “For His eyes are upon the ways of man” (Iyov 34:21). It is with recognition of Hashem’s involvement in all man’s affairs, and belief that whatever difficulties one encounters are ultimately for the good, that a person is able to bear insult without ill will and with a happy heart.