SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM
A statement which can be interpreted by the listener to mean that one party acted or spoke against another is rechilus even though this was not the speaker’s interpretation of that which he recounted. Such information may be related only if the speaker makes it clear that no harm was intended AND the listener is not known to be one who is likely draw his own negative conclusions.
SEFER SHMIRAS HALOSHON
A method through which one can motivate oneself to avoid the sin of loshon hora and its bitter punishment is alluded to in the juxtaposition of two verses in the Torah:
Beware of a tzaraas affliction, to be very careful and to act; according to everything that the Kohanim, the Levi’im shall teach you, as I have commanded them, you shall be careful to perform (Devarim 24:8).
Remember what Hashem, your G-d, did to Miriam on the way, when you were leaving Egypt (ibid. v. 9).
Sifre expounds: “‘Remember what Hashem, your G-d, did to Miriam …’ this cannot mean to remember in one’s heart, for the [previous] verse, ‘Beware of a tzaraas affliction …’ already teaches this sort of remembrance [for, as Sifre expounds, this verse instructs us to always beware of the sin of loshon hora, for which tzaraas is a punishment]. What, then, does ‘Remember’ imply? That we remind ourselves of this [Miriam’s punishment] verbally.’’
Regarding the positive commandments, the Torah states: “…that you may … remember all the commandments of Hashem and perform them” (Bamidbar 15:39). In the same way, verbal remembrance of the severity of loshon hora is a prime way of avoiding its transgression.
One may wonder: How is it that people recite the verse, “Remember what Hashem, your G-d, did to Miriam on the way, when you were leaving Egypt,’’ each morning, and yet they speak loshon hora? Moreover, there are individuals who commit this sin immediately after reciting this verse!
The answer to this is obvious. The Torah states: “for it is not an empty thing for you (Devarim 32:47)”. Midrashically, this means that the Torah is not, Heaven forfend, empty. If you find it to be unfulfilling, then the failure stems from you. The fault is in you, not in the Torah.
To our misfortune, we have fulfilled the prophet’s words, “Because this nation has approached Me, honoring Me with their mouths and lips, but their heart was far from Me, and their fear of Me was by force of habit” (Yeshayahu 29:13). We declare “Remember” with our lips, but we do not take its message to heart. It is clear that when a person does take its message to heart, the effect is profound.