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  • January 25, 2019

Preface: Positive Commandments

Pointing out someone’s misbehavior in a gentle, respectful way is required by the Torah. “You shall reprove your fellow,” is onethe 613 mitzvos. This mitzvah can be challenging at times, depending on your relationship to the person who is doing wrong, and what he is doing.

The Chofetz Chaim offers a powerful illustration where the average person will not find it hard to offer reproof:

You enter the local supermarket and notice that a neighbor of yours, a member of your shul, is heading to what used to be the kosher refrigerator. You observe with alarm as the man absentmindedly takes two deli sandwiches out of the refrigerator and puts them into his shopping cart. Obviously, he has not been to this supermarket since the kosher section was moved some two months ago.
Those two deli sandwiches are treife (non-kosher).

What should you do?

Obviously, says the Chofetz Chaim, there really is no choice. Every bite of meat that the man would eat would be another sin. The only thing to do is to stop him before he takes the first bite.

And it is the same with lashon hara, says the Chofetz Chaim. If someone were to approach you and begin relating something that is heading towards lashon hara, the mitzvah of tochachah (offering reproof) requires that you stop him immediately. “Excuse me,” you can say, “I don’t mean to be rude, but please don’t tell me any more about this. The halachah does not permit me to listen.”

The Chofetz Chaim says that allowing the person to relate his lashon hara and then telling him, “You really should not have said that,” is comparable to allowing the man to eat his treife sandwich and then telling him that he has just eaten non-kosher food.

You are sitting in shul on Shabbos afternoon on a long summer day, after Shalosh Seudos and before Maariv. In the front of the shul, the rav is sitting at the head of the table about to begin his weekly halachah shiur. In the back of the shul, four men are engaged in what appears to be a very enjoyable conversation. You know these men; unfortunately, they are not careful with their words. They enjoy telling funny stories about people whom they all know.
You know that the right thing is to attend the rav’ s shiur. But that conversation in the back looks so inviting ….

The Torah states:”To Him you shall cleave” How does a person attach himself to Hashem? By attaching himself to talmidei chachamim. We should associate with talmidei chachamim at every opportunity so that we will be influenced by them and learn from their ways. In our example, if the person makes the wrong choice and goes to the back of the shul to listen to lashon hara, he has also transgressed the mitzvah


We are obligated to stop others from speaking lashon hara.
We should not associate with groups who engage in forbidden con­versation.

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