SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM
Preface: Negative Commandments
Want to hear what Yosef did? You’ve got to hear this! — But don’t tell him that I told you! He thinks I’m his friend.”
When someone speaks lashon hara and at the same time is careful that the other person should not know of his dislike towards him, he has transgressed, “Do not hate your brother in your heart.” The key word here is “in your heart, “It is wrong to show open hatred for a fellow Jew. But it is even worse to act as if you like him while harboring hatred in your heart. This is the kind of hatred of which this verse speaks.
If we think that we have a valid reason for being upset or even angry with someone, then we should speak to the person about it, in a respectful manner. If we keep the anger bottled up inside it will grow, and over the course of time will most certainly develop into sinas chinam, baseless hatred. This is the hatred that destroyed the Second Beis HaMikdash.
If someone speaks lashon hara about someone out of a desire to “get even” with that person or because he bears a grudge against him, then he has transgressed, “Do not take revenge and do not bear a grudge.
Sometimes we are truly wronged by someone and we find it hard not to bear a grudge When this happens, there are a number of thoughts we can focus on to rid ourselves of bad feelings towards that person.
We can tell ourselves any or all of the following: “I don’t know what possessed him to do such a thing to me. Maybe he is having problems of which people are unaware, and this is causing him to behave this way.”
“I actually feel more sorry for him than for myself. Thank G-d, I do not resort to such behavior, even when I am upset with someone.”
“What will I gain by bearing a grudge or seeking revenge? This will only lead to more bitterness and ill feelings, and everyone will lose. On the other hand, if I rid myself of any ill feelings and forgive him, Hashem will judge me the same way and be forgiving of my misdeeds.
“And if I am good to him, there is a reasonable chance that he will want to respond in kind, and we will be on the way to real friendship and good will.”
Finally, we should bear in mind the following: In Heaven, all Jewish souls are one. Therefore, seeking revenge against another Jew is as ridiculous as hitting one’s own hand for “having the nerve” to get stuck in a door. What the person is actually doing is punishing himself.
IN A NUTSHELL
If we truly seek to avoid lashon hara, we must rid ourselves of hatred towards others, and we must not seek revenge or bear a grudge.
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