A Lesson A Day – “Innocent Remarks”

SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM

“Innocent Remarks”

      There are times when halacha accepts as fact “innocent” remarks, i.e. statements made in passing without the speaker being aware of the consequences of his words. As a rule, people do not lie unnecessarily, so that when a person does not realize that he is saying something of significance, it can be assumed that he is telling the truth.

      Halacha grants such statements the status of testimony in two instances:

      1) Where it is certain that ultimately the true story will be revealed to all. People do not fabricate tales when it is clear that their lies will be revealed as such.

      2) To establish that an individual is no longer alive.

      “Innocent” negative statements are not granted any such legitimacy. They are loshon hora and one is not permitted to believe them.

SEFER SHMIRAS HALOSHON

Growth Through Tribulation

      The Sages teach:

      Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov said: One should feel a sense of gratitude toward the Holy One, Blessed is He, when suffering comes upon him. Why? Because suffering draws a person close to Him, as it is written, “Hashem reproves the one whom He loves” (Mishlei 3:12).

      When suffering comes upon a person, he should accept it and withstand [the test], for its reward is infinite (Midrash Tanchumah, Parashas Ki Seitzei 2).

      “Wait silently for [the salvation of] Hashem, and wait longingly for Him” (Tehillim 37:7). Place your hope in the Holy One, Blessed is He. If He brings afflictions upon you, do not demonstrate disdain; rather, accept your lot like [one would accept] musical instruments [(the Hebrew word for) “wait longingly” can homiletically be related to “flutes”] (Yalkut Shimoni, Tehillim 729).

      To accept insult without bitterness, with the knowledge that all that transpires is an expression of Divine will, is to accept a form of affliction, as the passage above states: [Those who are insulted and do not insult …], who act out of love and are glad in their affliction.1 The reward for such acceptance is without measure.

      1. Once, the tzaddik R’ Zalman of Volozhin (disciple of the the Vilna Gaon) was traveling with his brother, R’ Chaim. When they arrived at a certain inn, the innkeeper spoke harshly to them and refused to grant them a room for the night. Later, as they resumed their journey, R’ Chaim noticed his brother crying. “Why are you crying?’’ he asked. “Did you then pay attention to the innkeeper’s words? I ignored them completely!” R’ Zalman replied: “Heaven forfend that I should cry over being insulted. I am crying because I sense a slight inner hurt as a result of his words. I cry that I have not yet attained the level of ‘Those who are insulted … and are glad in their affliction’ ” (from Sefer Toldos Adam).

Taken from my
A Lesson A Day
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Rabbi Chofetz Chaim
Chofetz Chaim
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