וְלֹ֤א תְחַלְּלוּ֙ אֶת־שֵׁ֣ם קָדְשִׁ֔י
Do not profane My Holy Name.
This is the sixth lav relating to lashon hora set forth in the pesicha to the Sefer Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim, in the Be’er Mayim Chaim to this lav, provides two reasons why there is a particularly intertwined relationship between speaking lashon hora and transgressing the prohibition of “Do not profane My Holy Name”.
The first reason is that lashon hora, in and of itself, does not provide a tangible benefit to the speaker or listener. The gemara in Taanis (8a) says לְעָתִיד לָבוֹא מִתְקַבְּצוֹת וּבָאוֹת כׇּל הַחַיּוֹת אֵצֶל הַנָּחָשׁ, וְאוֹמְרִים לוֹ: אֲרִי דּוֹרֵס וְאוֹכֵל, זְאֵב טוֹרֵף וְאוֹכֵל, אַתָּה מָה הֲנָאָה יֵשׁ לְךָ? אֹמֵר לָהֶם: ״וְאֵין יִתְרוֹן לְבַעַל הַלָּשׁוֹן״. In the days to come, all of the animals will gather together and come to the snake and say to him: A lion mauls its prey and eats it; a wolf tears apart its prey and eats it; but you, what pleasure do you have when you bite (a large animal or person that you are incapable of eating)? The snake will say to them: And what advantage does the speaker of lashon hora gain? A snake commonly kills prey and then slithers away without eating it. The ba’al lashon hora is the same, he kills with his words but does not gain a physical advantage. When someone receives a physical pleasure or advantage from an aveirah, it is, of course, still an aveirah, but we are not perfect beings and in weak moments we can be tempted to do something that might provide an immediate pleasure or physical benefit. When it comes to lashon hora, however, since there is generally no physical pleasure or benefit, it is considered to be a blatant desecration of Hashem and his mitzvos.
The second reason is that, due to the fact that lashon hora has become so commonplace, people often trivialize the halachah and become unable to see their speech as even possibly violating the Torah. If you are to reprimand such a person, the Chofetz Chaim says, he will bring “one thousand reasons” as to why what he said was either permitted or actually obligated. Commonly, he will double down and say even more egregious lashon hora. The Chofetz Chaim asks: הנמצא כזה בכל עונות שבעולם, למשל אם נראה שאחד נכשל באכילת חזיר בשוגג ונוכיח אם נראה שאחד נכשל באכילת חזיר בשוגג ונוכיח אותו על מהאותו על מה שעבר שעבר על תורת ה’ ולא השגיח על עצמו שלא לבוא לזה היתכן שיקח עוד חתיכת חזיר בפני המוכיח אותו ויאכל בפניו Can you find any other sin that is like this? For example, if you saw someone inadvertently eating pig and you rebuked them because they are transgressing the Torah, would he take another piece of pig and eat it in the face of the one who is rebuking him?! When it comes to desecration of Hashem’s name through lashon hora, it is a particular affront since it commonly leads to perversion of the Torah and additional bold faced commission of the same aveirah.
Those who speak lashon hora, and particularly ba’alei lashon hora– those who habitually speak lashon hora, commit a chilul Hashem because they generally have no physical pleasure from their speech and, therefore, it appears as if they are simply and knowingly acting against Hashem and his mitzvos. Additionally, the baa’al lashon hora will find any excuse to justify his speech and even claim that it is required. This type of immunity to rebuke and twisting of halachah is an egregious affront to Hashem.
Think about how you will act if someone tells you that something you have said is or might be lashon hora. Develop a response phrase that will ensure that you won’t fall into the trap of immediately trying to justify your speech. Some examples: “You might be right, l’m sorry, let me think that over.” “I try to be careful about my speech, so thank you for pointing that out.” “I appreciate you mentioning that, I need to think more on this particular situation.”
This twisting of Hashem’s mitzvos and rationalizing in a way that makes it seem that you don’t believe that Hashem is all knowing and seeing is an extreme level of chilul Hashem.
Shmirah Ba’Shavua will be published as a sefer containing several lessons from each Parsha.
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