Continuing with what we have been discussing, off the topic of lashon hara, this time talking about gazing at women especially when they are immodest. The gemara in Bava Basra 57b says that one gaze at women as they are laundering their clothes in the river. And the gemara says if you could have taken a different route to where you want to go then you are wicked and the Rashbam adds that even if you were closing your eyes as you walked down the riverbank you are still wicked. The Chofetz Chaim asks why are they called wicked, how is it any different than walking by a place of idol worship where we poskined that if you aren’t planning on going there, just passing by to get to where you want to go, even if you could go some other way and you have no intent of benefiting from any sounds smells, or beautiful sights coming outvif the idolatrous place of worship then it’s permissible to pass by even if automatically you might get some pleasure which you are uninterested in getting. Even according to the Chochmas Adam quoted last week who says one should close his eyes, or at least squint, or close his ears, and or stuff is nostrils a bit so he cannot smell, then if he does that and walk by he is not considered wicked so why does the Rashbam consider him wicked in this case? The Chofetz Chaim answers that when it comes to stairing at women especially when dressed inappropriately one has to take extra precautions not to come to gaze at them because the yetzer hara, evil inclination is extra sneaky and strong to get you to sin. Tge lost for women is much stronger than any other lust, even if you say to yourself that you aren’t affected by it but the yetzer hara has his way of ensnaring any man and getting him to fall into a sinful trap. Therefore, extra precautions must be taken and if not then you are considered evil.
The Chofetz Chaim lends support to this concept from a gemara in Brachos 61a that says it’s better to walk behind a lion thatn in back of a woman and if you meet one on the road then quickly walk past her and move to the side. (Granted derech eretz kadma liTorah, and one must use proper manners to at least acknowledge any person, even a lady on the street with a greeting but then quickly walk past her and don’t linger, lest you might look upon her and begin to have inappropriate thoughts.)
There is a story about the Chofetz Chaim, in his late 90s a couple of years before he passed away he was in an inn overnight on his travels and at breakfast the waitress who was attending him and his accompaniment was wearing a shirt which was a above her elbows. When she left, he turned to his secretary and asked him if she thought he was an angel. He meant that even though he was at the ripe old age of upper 90s and he was a very righteous person, besides the fact it was only her elbows showing, still in all he was greatly concerned that maybe his evil inclinations will over power him and he’ll sin at least in his thoughts, so he wondered if she thought he was an angel who could not be effected by physical desires.
Footnote 15: Back to the laws of lashon hara, if a person cannot walk away from someone speaking lashon hara, neither can he rebuke him and it’s embarrassing to put his fingers into his ears then besides not believing a word spoken, and having no intent if enjoying what he is hearing, he should also sit there as a stone or as the Rabbeinu Yona says even should a look of disgust and if you don’t stay still as a stone then you are helping him commit the sin by somewhat giving credence and considered flattering a sinner which us a grave sin which makes one undeserving of having the Shechina, Hashem’s Holy Presence focus on him.