SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM
To cause outright animosity between Jews is to speak rechilus; to effect a minor degree of ill feeling between Jews is to speak Avak Rechilus. An example of the latter is where one relates that someone spoke about the listener in a manner which is neither derogatory nor harmful, but which may cause the listener to be disappointed with that individual. The classic example of this is where Hashem spoke critically to Avraham of Sarah for her having expressed incredulity upon hearing an angel (disguised as a wayfarer) say that she would bear a child. Hashem said, “Why did Sarah laugh, to say, ‘Shall I in truth bear a child, though I have aged?’ ” (Bereishis 18:13). In fact, Sarah had said, “And my husband is old.” (V. 12). Talmud Yerushalmi (Pe’ah 1:1) states that to repeat such a statement would be to speak avak rechilus. Now, to say that a man of ninety-nine is old is neither derogatory nor damaging. However, it is a bit discomforting for a person of advanced age to hear that his spouse speaks of him as an “old man;” therefore, to report such a remark is to speak avak rechilus.
SEFER SHMIRAS HALOSHON
More Points to Ponder
One should ponder the severe retribution, both in this world and the next, which is liable to result from arrogance. The Talmud states that arrogance causes one’s properties to become ruined (Succah 29b) and one’s resources to become depleted (Sotah 5a). The Sages further state (ibid.) that regarding an arrogant person, Hashem says, “He and I cannot dwell together in the world.’’ Rabbi Elazar said: “Whoever is arrogant will not awaken at the time of the Resurrection” (ibid.). This last punishment is measure for measure. Instead of pondering the fact that he will ultimately be laid to rest in the earth, the arrogant person acts as if he will enjoy prominence forever, living a life of stature in which he will always be a notch above everyone else. Because of his sinful attitude, when his body will become part of the dust of the earth, it will lack the power to come back to life. When everyone else will return to life, he will remain asleep, underneath the feet of the people above whom he had glorified himself.
Furthermore, arrogance makes one repulsive before Hashem, as it is written, “Despicable to Hashem are all who are arrogant of heart” (Mishlei 16:5).