- BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא
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The Chafetz Chaim lists 31 mitzvot which may be violated when a person speaks or listens to Lashon Hara. This is a staggering number. Even though one does not generally violate them all in one shot, it is important to remember how carelessness can lead one into deeper trouble.
The central prohibition against unethical speech is Leviticus 19:16 - "Lo telech rachil b'ameicha" -- do not go about as a talebearer among your people. [FYI: Rashi's commentary on this verse is a "classic." He discusses the origins of the word rachil (a roving merchant), and a few divergent ideas about the Hebrew language.]
This verse in Leviticus applies equally to Rechilut and Lashon Hara (abbr.: L"H). The Chafetz Chaim gives their exact definitions, but for clarity we should mention them here:
- Lashon Hara - any derogatory or damaging (physically, financially, socially, or stress-inducing) communication.
- Rechilut - any communication that generates animosity between people.
It is certainly good to be aware of the various mitzvot. However, the halachot discussed in the Chafetz Chaim are more specific, basically revolving around "Lo telech rachil b'ameicha," "B'tzedek tishpot et amiteicha," and "hocheiach tochiach et amiteicha." The Chafetz Chaim delineates different situations and conditions, and identifies when the speech is forbidden, permissible, and even desirable.
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SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Sensitivities 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 … Continue reading
Shmiras Haloshon Yomi SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Laws of Loshon Hora 10:15_16 Be Prepared A successful public speaker knows that proper preparation is the key to delivering a good speech. A lecturer cannot come unprepared to deliver an address and expect … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Seeking Assistance When seeking a person’s assistance, be it financial or otherwise, one may not mention that he knows of others who received similar assistance from this individual – unless the individual is known to appreciate the … Continue reading
Shmiras Haloshon Yomi SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Laws of Loshon Hora 10:14 A Necessary Review We have learned in the previous segment that if someone has been hurt by another party and he can reclaim his loss or prevent further hurt … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Praise When sincerely praising an individual’s generosity in the presence of others, one should not do so in a way that may cause his family or business partner to be upset with him for having been charitable … Continue reading
Shmiras Haloshon Yomi SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Laws of Loshon Hora 10:13 The Art of Self-Defense The tongue is an awesome weapon. It can destroy people’s lives and reputations. It can create divisions between people and tear apart entire communities. But … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Rechilus When Attempting to Avoid Rechilus It is forbidden to tell someone, “I’d rather not tell you what so-and-so said about you,” for this is implying that “so-and-so” said something negative about the listener. If the speaker … Continue reading
SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Definition One who does not exercise proper caution in matters of speech may find himself inadvertently fanning the flames of hatred. It is forbidden to mention an incident or other piece of information which might remind the … Continue reading
Shmiras Haloshon Yomi SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Laws of Loshon Hora 10:11-12 Ulterior Motives We learned previously that one of the seven conditions of toeles is that our intentions be purely for a constructive purpose. In this segment, the Chofetz Chaim … Continue reading
Shmiras Haloshon Yomi SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM Laws of Loshon Hora 10:9-10 Beyond Reproach In the previous segment, we learned that when negative information needs to be related l’toeles (for a constructive purpose) and rebuke is not possible, then the report … Continue reading