Positive Mitzvah 12

Positive Mitzvah #12:
Today we spoke about the positive mitzvah of Torah Learning and how speaking Lashon Hara or Rechilus might leads to hundreds if not thousands of sins for every single moment one can be learning and he wastes his time and instead speaks loshon hara he is held accountabe for each word potentially missed since each word of Torah is a mitzvah in of itself.  There times Hashem might over look, or in fact it is imperative and allowed to stop learning, for example for one’s livelihood or wellbeing, but besides that Torah learning is a mitzvah obligated every single second of the day so if wasted one is held accountable for that and it is even worse if it is wasted through doing a sin like loshon hara. 

The Chofetz Chaim, as a footnote also painted a picture of how careful we must be too not get entrapped by the yetzer hara and become to engrossed in our jobs and business to the point that we might looks like important and wealthy business men in this world but are literally homeless, raggedy, clothes stained bums, without a house over our heads in the Next World.

Positive Mitzvos 10-11

Positive mitzvah #10 כבד את אביך ואת אמיך One also transgresses the positive mitzvah of honoring their parents if they speak or accept lashon hara about them whether in there face or behind there back. This extra mitzvah also applies to an older brother, stepmother and stepfather who you have a mitzvah to treat with extra respect beard on the extra word ואת in that verse.

Positive Mitzvah #11: את ד’ אלוקיך תירא One of the six constant mitzvos is to fear Hashem. This means that we must constantly have in mind that we can’t get around Hashem’s radar. Hashem is always watching us and will punish us for bad deeds based on the severity of our actions. Many times when speaking lashon hara it leads to other sins because when we speak loshon Hara we let down our fear guard and that drives us to do one sin after another until we put up the fear gaurd again.

Positive Mitzvos 7-9

Positive mitzva #7 = ומקדשי תיראו We have a positive mitzvah to have an extra sense of fear and awe of Hashem in His holy places. The basic understanding of this mitzvah is that it is talking about in the mishkan or Beis Hamikdash but most poskim hold it applies now a days in our shuls and yeshivas, therefore one should not shmuz mundane talk in shuls or yeshivas and certainly not speak loshob hara or rechilus. You are making your speech or listening to loshon hara even worse then it already is when doing it there because you are showing you have no care for the King of all Kings who focuses his holiness in these places and you are totally ignoring his laws in His “face” lihavdil.

  Positive mitzva #8: והדרת פני זקן There is a positive mitzva to show special respect to the elderly and a sage and by speaking any form of lashon hara about them not only does one transgress the prohibition of lashon hara but also does not fulfill this mitzvah. If one hears the lashon hara and does not stop it or protest it and even accept it he also transgresses this positive mitzva, whether he is standing in front of the elderly person or sage or behind his back. And if the person is both elderly and a sage the transgression is double-fold. 

Positive mitzva #9 וקדשתם There is a positive mitzva to treat a kohen with extra respect for example giving him the first Aliyah to the Torah. If one speaks or accepts lashon hara about a kohen he also transgresses this mitzvah, just like by the previous mitzvah. 

Positive mitzvah 5-6

Mitzvah 5: הוכיח תוכיח את עמיתיך: There is a mitzvah on the listener of loshon hara to rebuke the speaker. This should be done as soon as possible to minimize the amount of sins being transgressed or even to stop it when you see it is about to happen. There are times when you can allow him to finish like if there are other people around and you want to share with them that he is saying lies and should not be believed or one should listen to his whole speech if you feel there might be a concern you have to watch out for but you can’t believe what he says and should rebuke him after he stops speaking just in case he is talking for no good reason he can always reply I am telling you this for your own benefit. There are other times when it is better not to say anything if you know the speaker will not listen because rebuking him might just cause to speak even more lashon hara and that would be counterproductive. 

Mitzvah 6: ובו תדבק: A person has a mitzvah to hang around, do business with, have meals with and even try to marry off your children to guys involved in Torah study or even strive to marry off your sons to daughters of sages if possible in order to be influenced and learn from there Torah ideals. If one hangs around groups of people who just shmuz, may tell some good stories but get into tons of loshon hara, then one loses out on fulfilling this mitzvah. 

Positive Mitzvah 3-4

Positive mitzva 3: בצדק תשפוט עמיתך It is a mitzvah to judge people favorably. Certainly a righteous G-d fearing Jew, but also us in between people who sometimes make mistakes we must judge favorably. That does not mean we should lie to ourselves but the Chofetz Chaim suggests that always having an open mind with the attitude of searching out the positive in anything you see or hear will help you come up with a truthful reason of why something might sound or look wrong is really alright. However he also says there is no need to judge a wicked person favorably and a complete stranger there is no mitzva to judge favorably but it is a positive attribute to do so anyways. Often times people don’t straight out lie when speaking loshon hara but might take things out of context say half the story or quote part of a sentence. Other times the tone of voice someone reports in sometimes might cause others to take it out of context. Another thing that must be taken into account is the person you are talking about might have had a bad day or is in a lot of pain. Therefore both the speaker and listener must be very careful to be דן לכף זכות. 

Positive mitzva #4 גר ותושב וכו׳ וחי אחיך עמך There is a mitzva to support any Jew whether born Jewish or converted by giving him gifts, loans, partnerships or just finding him any job. Anything so that he will not have to go around and beg and he has a livelihood. Since that is the case one can certainly not say anything bad about a worker or a perspective shidduch just because you don’t like them and if there are some serious issues that must be dealt with it will be discussed how to do so in detail in the Halacha later on in Sefer Chofetz Chaim.

Positive Mitzvos 1-2

This week we began to discuss the positive mitzvos related to lashon hara. 

1. זכור את אשר עשה ד׳ למרים בדרך וכו. There is a mitzvah to constantly remind ourselves verbally and picture in our minds the punishment Miriam received for speaking lashon hara about her beloved brother Moshe whose intent was just positive and was said in private to her caring brother Aharon, so that all the more so we will be careful not to maliciously speak lashon hara about others. 

2. ואהבת לרעך כמוך We should be sensitive about the feelings and respect of others just like we would want them to be sensitive to our own feelings and honor. This is another method of discouraging ourselves from speaking lashon hara.  

Prohibitions 16-17

#16: “לא תחניפו את הארץ” This is a prohibition against flattery. It could apply to both the speaker and listener.
People who speak loshon hara might do it to find favor and flatter the listener. The person listening flatters the one who speaks loshon hara if he nodded his head in acquiescence or added a few words that adds to the slander. This sin’s severity causes Hashem’s Holy Presence to leave the Jews and it was one of the causes of the exile after the Second Temple was destroyed when the Sages flattered King Agripus.

#17 ״לא תקלל חרש״ A prohibition against cursing your fellow even if he is deaf or not present and all the more so if he can hear you curse him. Though this is not a part of lashon hara but many times when one gets angry and starts speaking lashon hara it leads to cursing the one he is speaking about.

Prohibitions 14-15

14. לא תשא עליו חטא A prohibition against embarrassing someone that could be caused when slandering them in their face and if done in public the slanderer has no share in the World To Come.

 15. כל אלמנה ויתום לא תענון A prohibition on causing pain and suffering to widows and orphans, verbally, physically, financially or any other way. We have to be extra careful to talk and act with widows and orphans extra softly and kindly, definitely for our own gain but even when they deserve rebuke we have to be extra sensitive to them when giving rebuke and proper direction. If we don’t Hashem says he personally defends them and the punishment is heavenly death.

Prohibitions 10-13

Negative mitzvah #10 = “לא יקום עד אחד באיש לכל עון ולכל חטאת” This is a prohibition against testifying by yourself. Normally a court only accepts two or more witnesses as testimony. There are special circumstances like prompting a defendant to take an oath where a single witness is accepted. However if there is no use for the single witness it is forbidden for him to testify in court and is considered Loshon Hara.

Negative mitzvah #11 = “לא תהיה אחרי רבים לרעות” You can hang around a bad crown, like a group that speaks loshon hara. The Be’er Mayim Chaim points out that not only is there a Torah mitzvah against hanging around bad crowds but in the rest of Tanach there is many instances where it mentions the same thing so it is also Rabinnically forbidden, for example the first verse in Tehillim, “The praises of a man are that he did not follow the counsel of the wicked, neither did he stand in the way of sinners nor sit in the company of scorners.”

Negative mitzvah #12 = .”לא יהיה כקרח וכעדתו” There is a specific prohibition to not act like Korach and his followers. Speaking or even accepting loshon hara can lead to intense fighting. If the person listening would have made a displeasurable face, showing he does not want to listen to this type of talk, there is a good chance an argument could have died down.

Negative mitzvah #13 = “לא תונו איש את עמיתו” This a prohibition against speaking אונאת דברים, speech that makes people feel bad, in front of them bythemselves is a problem, all the more so if there is a group listening. Examples are talking about what a baal teshuva use to do before he or she became Torah observant, disabilities in intellect, physically, emotionally, etc., or even talking about family members in a negative way. If there is no helpful purpose it is forbidden to bring up even in private, all the more so in public.

Prohibitions 7-9

Today we covered Negative Mitzvos 7-9 in the prologue. 

Negative mitzvah 7: ״לא תשנא את אחיך בלבביך״ “Do not hate your brother in your heart.” If a person is nice to someone to his face but speaks loshon hara about him to others, The Chofetz Chaim says this sin is so severe and is even specified in the Torah because it is worse than regular hatred since the one being hated cannot defend himself. If one lashes out, out of hatred against someone he can physically or verbally defend himself but if the enemy is speaking peace to your face and hurts you behind your back what can you do? This sin only applies to the one speaking loshon hara and only as long it is behind the back of the guy he is speaking about.

The 8th and 9th negative mitzvos are ״לא תקום ולא תטור״ “Don’t take revenge or bear a grudge.” If someone did something bad to you and you remember it and then speak loshon hara about him so that other people won’t act kindly towards him, this is bearing a grudge and taking revenge. One should just forget about anything bad one does to you. The Sefer HaChinuch and Rambam both hold that not taking revenge or bearing a grudge applies whether someone did something against you monetarily, physically, or verbally. The Sefer HaChinuch’s advice to forgive and forget is that really everything is from Hashem and this person is just a messenger to cause harm to you in order to atone for a sin you have done so you can’t take revenge or bear a grudge against him since he really did nothing wrong it is your sin which brought the harm upon you. However the Chofetz Chaim adds that at the time of being harmed one is allowed to defend himself however it is a positive trait to overlook any bad one says about you or even does to you, unless physically defending your self from getting harmed. Otherwise after the fact it is forbidden to care about what happened because that will be bearing a grudge which could lead also to revenge.  These sins could apply to both the speaker and listener of lashon hara, for if the listener adds his input or agrees fully what the speaker says because he was wronged by the same guy then he is transgressing taking bearing a grudge and or taking revenge.