SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Hilchos Lashon Hara 2:12-13
Rabbi Avraham Pam would caution his talmidim to be especially careful at a particularly “dangerous time.” This is the time when people leave shul at the conclusion of Mussaf on Rosh Hashanah.
What could be “dangerous” about such a time?
Imagine the following conversation:
Friend 1: “Let’s see what time it is … 2:45! That’s insane! Last year we finished Mussaf on Rosh Hashanah at 2:10!”
Friend 2: “Well, there’s a reason why we finished so late. The new chazzan obviously thinks that everyone wants to hear his gorgeous voice — he had to sing every second paragraph!”
Friend 1: “Don’t blame everything on the chazzan. It’s also the fault of the baal tokei’a. Where did this guy learn how to blow the shofar? The rav made him do it over 50 percent of the time!”
Friend 2: “And speaking of the rav — his speech before Mussaf has got to be the most boring one yet. I guess he has nothing new to say; he recycles the same ideas again and again.”
A person can spend the morning and early aftenoon of Rosh Hashanah engaged in sincere teshuvah and heartfelt tefillah — only to lose all he has accomplished by engaging in conversations of lashon hara.
The Chofetz Chaim focuses on the criticism of the rav’s speech.
I must be very clear about something, for I see that many people are accustomed to doing it: When someone delivers a lecture in a beis midrash, the halachah does not allow anyone to ridicule the lecturer or to say that his lectures lack substance and that there is nothing worth listening to.
To our misfortune, we have seen many who are guilty of this and do not consider such ridicule to be a sin at all. According to halachah, this is actual lashon hara. Such statements are likely to cause the lecturer financial harm, and many times, they lead to his being pained and embarrassed as well.
We don’t have to like the speeches that we hear; at the same time, we are not permitted to voice our negative opinions about such speeches. This can cause the speaker embarrassment and even financial harm.
This applies even when every word of criticism is true. Unfortunately, notes the Chofetz Chaim, it is all too common for people to exaggerate a speaker’s faults.
He’s always boring, goes on and on … I’ll tell you the truth — sometimes I think that he himself doesn’t know what he’s talking about!
The Chofetz Chaim has very strong words for people who make this sort of remark. Quite often, he says, they lack yiras Shamayim and ridicule the speaker because they do not want to admit that his words of reproof are on the mark and that their way of life needs to be changed. The tragedy is that by ridiculing the speaker, they cause others to ignore his words as well.
The baal lashon hara will have quite a lot to answer for on his Day of Judgment.
It’s a good idea to keep far away from such people.
IN A NUTSHELL
Never ridicule public speakers, baalei tefillah, or anyone else whose performance you did not appreciate.
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