SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM
Preface: Positive Commandments
The Torah commands us to accord special honor to kohanim. This is derived from the verse, “And you shall sanctify him. “When someone speaks lashon hara about a kohen, he has shown him disrespect, and therefore transgresses this mitzvah. The Chofetz Chaim suggests that someone who intentionally listens to lashon hara or accepts lashon hara about a kohen also transgresses this mitzvah.
As a 20-year-old yeshivah student, Rabbi Shimon Schwab visited the Chofetz Chaim in Radin and requested a berachah. Before conferring his berachah, the tzaddik asked Rav Schwab whether he was a kohen or levi. When he replied that he was neither, the Chofetz Chaim described how wonderful it will be to be a kohen or levi when Mashiach arrives and the Beis HaMikdash will be rebuilt. Then he said:
“Perhaps you have heard — I’m a kohen. Tell me, why aren’t you a kohen?”
Rav Schwab was puzzled by the question. “Because my father is not a kohen,” he replied.
“And why isn’t your father a kohen?” the Chofetz Chaim asked further.
Rav Schwab decided not to answer. Obviously, the Chofetz Chaim was trying to make a point.
“I’ll tell you why,” he went on. “Because 3,000 years ago, at the episode of the Golden Calf, your ancestors didn’t come running when Moshe Rabbeinu called out,’ Whoever is for Hashem, join me!’ My grandfather, and all the other members of the tribe of Levi, did run to Moshe …
“Now take this lesson to heart. In every person’s life, there is a moment when a call goes forth to him,’ whoever is for Hashem, join me!’
When you hear that call, make sure that you come running!”
In these difficult times, one can almost hear a Heavenly voice calling to each and every one of us “Mi L’Hashem Elai” Those who study and live by the laws of shemiras halashon have answered the call of “Mi L’Hashem Elai” and are playing a major role in hastening the coming of Mashiach.
One of the Ten Commandments is the mitzvah to honor our parents,” Honor your father and your mother”. If someone would, G-d forbid, speak lashon hara about his parents, he would transgress this mitzvah. The verse “Accursed is one who degrades his father and mother” would also apply to him.
From the words “es” we learn that one is also required to honor his stepmother or stepfather. From the letter “vav” we learn that it is also a mitzvah to honor an older brother. One who speaks lashon hara about a stepfather, stepmother, or older brother has transgressed the relevant mitzvah.
IN A NUTSHELL
We must be especially careful not to speak lashon hara about a kohen, a parent, stepparent, or older brother.
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