Today we concluded the positive
mitzvos associated with Lashon Hara. In total there are 31 mitzvos one can
eventually transgress when habitually speaking lashon hara though all 31 cannot
be done at once.
מדבר שקר תרחק – There is a positive
mitzva to stay far away from lying, even if it is just leaving out information
or not speaking up when you see something is going the wrong way and you
can fix it. Lying transforms loshon hara to an all new even worse problem
called motzie shem ra. This mitzvah only applies to the one speaking not the one
#14 והלכה בדרכיו – We have a positive mitzvah to emulate Hashem.
Just as He is merciful you shall be merciful, just as He is gracious you shall
be gracious. By definition Hashem’s attributes are only positive, He does not
have any negative attributes. By being involved in the negtive attribute
of speaking or listening to lashon hara you are not fulfilling the positive
mitzva of emulating Hashem.
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
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.
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 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
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
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.
mitzva 3: בצדק תשפוט עמיתך
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.
This week we began to discuss the positive mitzvos related to
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
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.
#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.
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.
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.