The Chofetz Chaim has stated and proven beyond any doubt that the sin of loshon hora, which was the cause of the Second Temple’s destruction, is the factor which up to this day has prevented us from being redeemed through Moshiach’s arrival. The question is, why? How could this one sin be so destructive?
To understand the severity of loshon hora and its ramifications, one must first understand the judicial system in Heaven through which the Jewish People are judged. The Chofetz Chaim explains that the Heavenly judicial process is initiated by words which Jews speak on this world. Our negative conversations are the key which opens the door for Satan to prosecute.
As Zohar states (Parashas Shelach), this sin “brings plague, sword and murder to this world. Woe to those who awaken this evil force, who do not guard their tongues and pay no heed to this! They do not realize that the ways of Heaven are reflective of the ways on this world, both for good and for bad. [Through evil talk,] Satan is aroused to voice accusation against the entire world.”
In this vein, the Chofetz Chaim explains that the teaching (Arachin 15b), “Whoever speaks loshon hora raises sins to the Heavens,” should be taken literally. When we speak negatively of our fellow Jews, this causes the sins of our people to be noted in Heaven, where they are brought before the Heavenly Throne for judgment. We think we’re merely chatting, when in reality, we’re delivering the day’s caseload to Satan.
The Chofetz Chaim offers a second reason why loshon hora is so damaging. Because loshon hora utilizes the power of speech to do its damage, it corrupts this faculty and prevents our Torah and tefillah (prayer) from ascending Heavenward. The Chofetz Chaim envisions the sacred words that pour forth from a mouth corrupted by loshon hora. He sees them heading upward toward our “Heavenly bank accounts,” but never quite getting there. We believe we have accomplished something spiritually, but that’s not what happened. The Chofetz Chaim says, “All the words of Torah and tefillah are hanging somewhere between Heaven and earth, suspended in the air.” He concludes: if our Torah and tefillah are not being credited to us, then, “From where will we acquire the necessary merit to bring Mashiach and the Final Redemption?”