Shmiras Haloshon Yomi Day 90 Misconceptions

 

Shmiras Haloshon Yomi – Learning the Laws of Proper Speech – 3rd Elul, 5769

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Shmiras Haloshon Yomi

24 Av, 5769 / August 14, 2009

Day 90 – Misconceptions

SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM – Laws of Rechilus 1:4-5

        Just as, by definition, loshon hora is derogatory or harmful information which is true, so, too, is rechilus true information which can cause ill will. If the information is false, the transgression is even more severe. The Chofetz Chaim cites a series of verses (Mishlei 6:16-19) which state that a person who causes bad feelings between friends through rechilus is deemed a rasha (wicked person) and is despicable in the eyes of Hashem.

        It is a serious mistake to think that speaking rechilus to someone who is already an enemy of the subject is not forbidden. It is. Though animosity was already present, it is forbidden to deliver a report which will deepen the rift.

        The Chofetz Chaim warns us concerning another misconception, that it is not a sin to reveal information when pressured to do so. Consider this scenario: Your friend the contractor has just finished renovating a kitchen for your friend the homeowner. The homeowner was not completely satisfied with the job and he told this to some friends. Now you meet the contractor, and he says, “Someone happened to mention that you were present when Levi talked about the work I did at his house. What did he have to say?” If you hesitate before responding, he might say, “What’s the matter? Is he unhappy about something?”

        At this point, you are in a difficult situation. If you say, “He’s not unhappy,” you’re implying that he isn’t particularly happy, either. If you refuse to discuss it, the implication is also negative. The best strategy, if you can anticipate this type of situation, is to prepare a quick, simple answer that will preempt further conversation about that topic. You should not relate what Levi actually said, despite the pressure to do so.

        The Chofetz Chaim concludes that even if one’s father or rebbi (Torah teacher) asks him, “What did so-and-so say about me?” it is forbidden to say anything negative. Responding negatively to, “Did they like my shiur (Torah lecture)?” also falls under the category of rechilus. Here, too, one must delicately and respectfully avoid an accurate response.

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Shmiras Haloshon Yomi Day 89 Third-Party Support

 

Shmiras Haloshon Yomi – Learning the Laws of Proper Speech – 1st Elul, 5769

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Shmiras Haloshon Yomi

23 Av, 5769 / August 13, 2009

Day 89 – Third-Party Support

SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM – Laws of Rechilus 1:3

        The Chofetz Chaim begins the laws of rechilus with some fundamental points. Good intentions do not remove a statement from the category of rechilus. If a statement can cause ill will it is forbidden, regardless of the speaker’s good intentions.

        The Chofetz Chaim focuses on a common tactic used in arguments between husband and wife, child and parent or employee and employer. Often, people name a third party as supporting their opinion.

        A wife tells her husband, “Even your sister agrees with me. She says I’m right.” A son tells his mother, “Even David’s mother says I’m right that boys my age should be allowed to drive.” An employee tells his boss, “You know, your friend Mr. Friedman told me that I’m worth a lot more than you’re paying me.”

        Using another person’s opinion to bolster your case does not win arguments. Often it serves to infuriate the person with whom you are arguing. The employer who is underpaying his employee will not suddenly be won over to his employee’s way of thinking because his friend thinks that the man deserves a raise. The more likely response is, “What right does he have to interfere? What does he know about my business?” The mother whose son wants to drive will not suddenly change her mind based on another mother’s opinion. Her response most likely will be, “How dare she meddle in matters between myself and my child?”

        Despite its ineffectiveness, people use this strategy for a simple reason. They feel that it strengthens their position by turning it into a majority opinion. The hope is that the opposing party will feel outnumbered and therefore capitulate.

        But Halachah looks past the strategies to the end result, and it identifies this strategy as one that is likely to create ill will. And that is why it is forbidden.

A daily lesson from the Chofetz Chaim: A Daily Companion/Mesorah Publications.
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Shmiras Haloshon Yomi Day Day 88 – Rechilus

 

Shmiras Haloshon Yomi – Learning the Laws of Proper Speech – 30th Av, 5769

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Shmiras Haloshon Yomi

23 Av, 5769 / August 13, 2009

Day 88 – Rechilus

SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM – Laws of Rechilus 1:1-2

        With this segment, we begin the second part of Sefer Chofetz Chaim, which is devoted to hilchos rechilus, the laws of gossipmongering. The Chofetz Chaim begins by citing the verse which explicitly prohibits rechilus: “Lo Seileich Rachil B’Amecha,” You shall not go as a peddler of gossip among your people (Vayikra 19:16). The Chofetz Chaim emphasizes the gravity of this sin: “It has destroyed many souls among the Jewish people.” He explains that in the Torah, this commandment is immediately followed by “You shall not stand aside while your fellow’s blood is shed.” Words of gossip, which cause ill will and hatred among Jews, have the power to destroy and defame families, friends and communities.

        As proof of the damage which rechilus can cause, the Chofetz Chaim cites the case of Doeg HaAdomi. Doeg informed King Shaul that Achimelech the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) had granted refuge to David, for whom Shaul was hunting. Shaul accepted this wicked report and ordered the Kohanim of Nov killed. Such is the power of rechilus.

        The Chofetz Chaim offers us a very clear picture of a rachil, a peddler of gossip. This is a person who goes from one person to the next saying, “Did you hear what Reuven said about you?” “Did you hear what Reuven did to you?” “Did you hear what Reuven wants to do to you?”

        The Chofetz Chaim goes further. Even if the reported information is not inherently negative and the subject himself would freely admit to it, it is still rechilus. It is rechilus, says the Chofetz Chaim, even if the person’s words or actions were absolutely justified.

        For example: Reuven has a habit of double-parking his car in congested areas. One day his doubleparking causes a major traffic jam. Shimon passes by and comments that parking in such a way is inexcusable. Someone approaches Reuven and says, “Do you know what Shimon said…?” Though Shimon’s comment may have been justified, the person who quoted Shimon in Reuven’s presence was guilty of rechilus.

        The animosity which rechilus creates is what matters; the fact that the subject was correct does not erase the ill will which the report caused. Such ill will is the product of feeling attacked. It comes from finding out that someone has been talking about you. Think of your own reaction — the instant anger — that is aroused from hearing that someone has criticized your performance in some area

        The Torah recognizes the terrible destruction which strife causes within Klal Yisrael (the Jewish people). Disunity disqualifies us from receiving Hashem’s blessings. Rechilus fosters strife and creates rifts among Jews which sometimes are irreparable. The laws of shmiras haloshon are a gift from Hashem designed to preserve love and unity. Follow them and you will be a source of blessing for yourself, your loved ones and all the Jewish people.

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Since 1989, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation has successfully launched innovative methods of promoting the Torah’s wisdom on human relations and personal development. The foundation utilizes a vast array of effective communication tools including books, tapes, video seminars, telephone classes and a newsletter, designed to heighten one’s awareness of such essential values as judging others favorably, speaking with restraint and integrity, and acting with sensitivity and respect. The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s programs reassert the Torah’s timeless recipe for building a world of compassion and harmony. The following opportunities for learning and personal growth are available through their offices.

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Shmiras Haloshon Yomi Day 87 Who’s to Blame?

 

Shmiras Haloshon Yomi – Learning the Laws of Proper Speech – 29th Av, 5769

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Shmiras Haloshon Yomi

22 Av, 5769 / August 12, 2009

Day 87 – Who’s to Blame?

SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM – Laws of Loshon Hora 10:17

        In this segment, the Chofetz Chaim examines a case in which you are wrongly accused of something, and it is obvious that the real wrongdoer had to be either you or someone else within your circle.

        Obviously, it would be forbidden to inform on the real culprit. The Chofetz Chaim tells us that the halachah does allow you to say, “I didn’t do it.” However, in cases where there are only two possible culprits and saying “I didn’t do it” automatically places the blame on the other person, other factors need to be considered in deciding the halachah (see Be’er Mayim Chaim §43).

        Even where you are allowed to say, “I didn’t do it,” this response would be considered acting according to the strict letter of the law. However, it is considered praiseworthy to go beyond the letter of the law and actually accept the blame to protect the guilty party.

        Obviously, the Chofetz Chaim is recommending this only for someone with the emotional strength to absorb the consequences. He is certainly not recommending that one do something which would cause him great distress or involve him in a feud. On the other hand, there are situations in which there is much to be gained by accepting the blame for someone else.

        For example, suppose someone feels slighted because he was not invited to an important shul (synagogue) function which you helped organize. If you have an established, close relationship with the person, he is more likely to be forgiving of your wrongdoing than he would be toward someone else. If you accept the blame for this oversight, your friend will understand that no harm was intended, and the tension will be defused.

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Since 1989, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation has successfully launched innovative methods of promoting the Torah’s wisdom on human relations and personal development. The foundation utilizes a vast array of effective communication tools including books, tapes, video seminars, telephone classes and a newsletter, designed to heighten one’s awareness of such essential values as judging others favorably, speaking with restraint and integrity, and acting with sensitivity and respect. The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s programs reassert the Torah’s timeless recipe for building a world of compassion and harmony. The following opportunities for learning and personal growth are available through their offices.

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Shmiras Haloshon Yomi Day 86 Be Prepared

 

Shmiras Haloshon Yomi – Learning the Laws of Proper Speech – 28th Av, 5769

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Shmiras Haloshon Yomi

28th Av, 5769

Day 86 – Be Prepared

SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM – Laws of Loshon Hora 10:15_16

      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 his thoughts to be organized and his words eloquent.

      The Chofetz Chaim tells us, “Come see, my brother, how carefully one has to weigh each word [before speaking negatively l’toeles] when someone has wronged him, because when he speaks he stands in great danger of transgressing the sin of loshon hora. Clearly, it is regarding this that we can say, ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue’ (Mishlei 18:21). If one will not consider carefully before he speaks exactly how he is going to present the matter, he will surely stumble, G-d forbid. For at that moment, his anger will get the better of him and it will be impossible to exercise proper caution.”

      When someone, without proper forethought, tells others how someone has hurt him or is planning to hurt him, his emotions quickly override his intentions to speak only l’toeles.

      Once one has decided exactly what he wants to say, he should carefully examine his presentation in the light of the seven requirements of constructive speech. He should analyze each thought. Does it contain anything inflammatory? Are there any exaggerations? One should consider possible questions which the listener might ask and how to respond. One should be prepared to respond quickly, without stumbling, for once the speaker begins to stumble, it will be hard for him to regain control of the conversation—and that is when loshon hora can begin. Furthermore, if the speaker will not prepare himself well, the listener may elicit information that should not be offered.

      If these precautions seem excessive, imagine the precautions a person would take if he were working in a lab where deadly viruses are studied. That is how situations involving potential loshon hora should be treated, for as Shlomo HaMelech declared: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

A daily lesson from the Chofetz Chaim: A Daily Companion/Mesorah Publications.
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Since 1989, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation has successfully launched innovative methods of promoting the Torah’s wisdom on human relations and personal development. The foundation utilizes a vast array of effective communication tools including books, tapes, video seminars, telephone classes and a newsletter, designed to heighten one’s awareness of such essential values as judging others favorably, speaking with restraint and integrity, and acting with sensitivity and respect. The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s programs reassert the Torah’s timeless recipe for building a world of compassion and harmony. The following opportunities for learning and personal growth are available through their offices.

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Shmiras Haloshon Yomi Day 85 A Necessary Review

 

Shmiras Haloshon Yomi – Learning the Laws of Proper Speech – 27th Av, 5769

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Shmiras Haloshon Yomi

27th Av, 5769

Day 85 – A Necessary Review

SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM – Laws of Loshon Hora 10:14

      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 by telling others of the incident, he is permitted to do so. The Chofetz Chaim begins this segment by stating:

      “However, one must be extremely careful with this license, that none of the seven conditions mentioned above be omitted. For if he will not be extremely careful, he will easily be trapped in the snare of the yetzer hara and through this license, he will be counted among those whom the Torah considers baalei loshon hora. Because of this [danger], I will review all seven conditions with a bit of additional comment.”

      The Chofetz Chaim then reviews the seven conditions

      1.  One must have firsthand knowledge of the negative incident. Otherwise, says the Chofetz Chaim, one cannot be certain that the alleged perpetrator is really the guilty party! If one has second_ hand negative information to relate l’toeles, he must make it clear that his words are based on hearsay.

      2.  One must be certain that he is interpreting the facts correctly. The Chofetz Chaim states that this is probably the most difficult condition of all (where one has been hurt personally) because people’s perceptions are usually subjective. He warns, “One never sees himself as guilty; each man thinks that his way is correct. If he stumbles in this [and speaks against someone who is, in fact, innocent], then he is guilty of hotzaas shem ra (slander), which is worse than loshon hora.”

      3.  If there is a chance that the culprit will heed rebuke, and it is likely that rebuke will not make matters worse, then one must first speak to the subject privately and attempt to convince him to right the wrong on his own.

      4.  There can be no exaggerations and no detail may be omitted if it casts the culprit in a somewhat better light. Sometimes leaving out a small positive point of the story makes the culprit appear worse than he actually is.

      5.  One’s intentions must be purely l’toeles, for a constructive purpose. In cases where one has a personal interest but the negative information is necessary to protect others, he should speak to a rav for guidance in how to proceed.

      6.  6.  If one can effect a solution without resorting to loshon hora, he must choose that route. The Chofetz Chaim adds here that if it is possible to omit certain negative details and still accomplish the constructive purpose, then those details should be omitted.

      7.  One must be certain that the report will not cause the culprit any damage which is not sanctioned by halachah.

A daily lesson from the Chofetz Chaim: A Daily Companion/Mesorah Publications.
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Since 1989, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation has successfully launched innovative methods of promoting the Torah’s wisdom on human relations and personal development. The foundation utilizes a vast array of effective communication tools including books, tapes, video seminars, telephone classes and a newsletter, designed to heighten one’s awareness of such essential values as judging others favorably, speaking with restraint and integrity, and acting with sensitivity and respect. The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s programs reassert the Torah’s timeless recipe for building a world of compassion and harmony. The following opportunities for learning and personal growth are available through their offices.

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Shmiras Haloshon Yomi Day 84 The Art of Self-Defense

 

Shmiras Haloshon Yomi – Learning the Laws of Proper Speech – 26th Av, 5769

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Shmiras Haloshon Yomi

26th Av, 5769

Day 84 – The Art of Self-Defense

SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM – Laws of Loshon Hora 10:13

      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 there are times when even gentle, respectful people have to resort to words as a weapon: in self defense

      People sometimes inflict real harm on others — sometimes financial, sometimes physical or emotional. There are many situations where the desired course is to forego our presumed rights in a dispute or to overlook the hurt which we have suffered — for the sake of peace, and so that we may rise to the lofty levels which the Torah seeks of us. But this is by no means a blanket principle, because the Torah does not want us to become victims of exploitation or abuse.

      When a strong self-defense is called for, the Torah places the weapon of words at our disposal, with careful instructions on how to use them.

      The Chofetz Chaim explains:

      We have learned in the previous segment that if someone has wronged me, I am forbidden to tell others of his misdeed for the constructive purpose of influencing him to correct his behavior. This is because we must assume that my true intention, at least partially, is simply to derive satisfaction from having others know of the wrong which was committed. However, says the Chofetz Chaim, I would be permitted to tell others what happened if this will help to have the wrong corrected. For example, if someone steals from me, and I can influence him to return the money by speaking to his parents or rav (rabbi) and convincing them of my case, then in most instances, the Torah will allow me to pursue that course of action.

      Another example would be in the case of verbal abuse or physical harm. If someone has hurt me in such ways, and is likely to continue doing so, I can tell my story to those people who are in a position to convince the abuser to stop.

      The same would apply if I were to learn that someone is planning to harm me and I can thwart his plans by speaking to the appropriate party. The words spoken in an effort to enlist help in these situations are permissible, though they denigrate the abuser. Halachah permits them in the guise of self-defense, as a shield and not a sword

A daily lesson from the Chofetz Chaim: A Daily Companion/Mesorah Publications.
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ABOUT THE CHOFETZ CHAIM HERITAGE FOUNDATION

Since 1989, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation has successfully launched innovative methods of promoting the Torah’s wisdom on human relations and personal development. The foundation utilizes a vast array of effective communication tools including books, tapes, video seminars, telephone classes and a newsletter, designed to heighten one’s awareness of such essential values as judging others favorably, speaking with restraint and integrity, and acting with sensitivity and respect. The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s programs reassert the Torah’s timeless recipe for building a world of compassion and harmony. The following opportunities for learning and personal growth are available through their offices.

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