SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM
Friends and Relatives
It is reasonable to assume that people dislike those who speak badly of their friends or relatives. Therefore, to tell an individual that someone has spoken negatively of his friend or relative is to speak rechilus.
An important application of this law is in the case of children. We have learned that one may speak of a child’s mischievous behavior if neither the speaker nor the listener will think any less of the child as a result of the incident. Since the Torah deems children culpable for their actions only in a limited sense, their misbehavior is considered shameful only if people view it as such. Nevertheless, it is common for a parent or grandparent to feel ill will toward someone who tells others of his child’s or grandchild’s misbehavior. Therefore, to inform a parent or grandparent that someone told of their child’s misbehavior is to speak rechilus.
SEFER SHMIRAS HALOSHON
The King and His Bird
“Trust in Hashem forever, for in G-d, Hashem, is the strength of the worlds” (Yeshayahu 26:4). The term “forever” alludes to the current situation, when the happenings of this world are guided from Above with a degree of hester panim, Divine concealment [as opposed to earlier generations, such as the Temple era, when G-d’s involvement in the world’s affairs was plainly apparent]. Even in our day, when Hashem seems hidden from us and many have strayed from the ways of their ancestors, nevertheless, one should trust in Hashem.
We can compare this to the situation of a king who possessed great wealth and power, and ruled over his kingdom in grand style. One day, news reached the royal palace that a small, insignificant village had rebelled against the king’s rule. While the king’s advisers were debating what sort of punishment should be dealt the rebels, the king went for a stroll in his garden. He came upon a beautiful bird chirping in a very sweet way. A servant obeyed the king’s order that the bird be brought to the royal palace so that the king and his family could enjoy its chirping. As the bird was being carried to its new home, it began to chirp a lilting song. Someone said aloud, “How lovely are you, and how lovely are the songs that you sing! How I worry that you may go hungry, now that some of the king’s subjects have rebelled and refuse to give of their produce for the royal family and its pets.’’
A servant of the king replied: “You foolish, ignorant man! Need a king, who rules over scores of provinces and whose storehouses overflow with abundance, worry about a few grains that his bird needs for sustenance? How foolish can one be?!’’
The message of this parable is clear, as we shall see.