shmirat haloshon - When to keep silent

This post is dedicated in merit that Hershel ben Etya Sarah have a yeshuah.

By Elisheva Maline

A Daily Companion, an anecdotal explanation/ translation of The Chofez Chaim's sefer (book) on guarding one's speech, advises us to control ourselves when tempted to make obnoxious comments about others. Sometimes, even if the statement isn't abrasive, even when it is downright bland, the outcome of the conversation is pretty clear. If you tell your friend's husband that his spouse has great taste in food, "We went to this great restaurant and she was so sophisticated... she ordered this that and the other," knowing that the guy will be upset with his wife for spending money when they are strapped for cash, you just spoke loshon hara

The Chofez Chaim was hyper aware of the possible outcomes to one's choice of words. During a traveling incident with a fellow rabbi, he was chagrined to hear his companion, upon being asked how the food was, comment that the soup could've used a little more salt. "Do you realize what you just did?" he admonished his neighbor. "The manager just went to yell at the cook who is surely a struggling widow and she will be reduced to tears and shame. He may even lower her paycheck." The other Rabbi waved the Chofez Chaim's words away and told him he had an overactive imagination. However, upon exhorting the other to accompany him to the kitchen, the companion was shocked to observe the manager yelling at a woman who was, indeed, weeping into her apron. The man immediately rushed in, apologized and said that everything was delicious, including the soup.

In the laws of loshon hara (9:3-4) the Chofez Chaim also warns us not to heap on the praise too lavishly when mentioning the favors others did for you. "Remember Mike? Yeah, what a great guy. I walked into his house the other day and first thing he did was hand me a wad of cash on loan." Before you know it, everyone will be fighting to become Mike's "buddy." What normal fellow deserves that kind of publicity? Regarding this, the Chofez Chaim begged us not to be naive. He was sensitive to the human psyche and pushed for others to be aware as well. 

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