shmirat haloshon - A Bag Full of Sins

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

Elisheva Maline

Here's an old question: "if you had the option to push a button knowing you'd win a million dollars but that it would result in the death of some random person in another country, would you do it?" For many the scenario is a no brainer; that's why I brought it up. However, for those with little or no moral backbone, the question does pose a quandary of sorts. The act of pressing a button seems so insignificant, so minuscule, and the scene of the crime so far away. What a person can't see can be spirited away from the consciousness as the temptation to close one's eyes to the pain of the murdered person's family and friends grows. On the other hand, the thought that one has the power to cause another person's destruction could bring any sensitive nature to its knees.

When an evil is done, or any deed for that matter, it is never just an isolated incident. There are always other factors at stake. In the case of the above scenario, the family, friends, and indeed, everything that has something to do with the victim is affected. Now, if we take the idea of murder as well as the dynamo effect surrounding it and replace it with speaking loshon hara, the similarities are humbling i.e. no matter who's being hurt and for what reasons, the act of speaking will always leave the speaker with a bagful of negative consequences and sins. The words that were spoken never stand alone; there is always so much more going on.

What consequences are we referring to here? The Chofez Chaim tells us that when we choose to speak loshon hara we are essentially making our bags of sins heavier with transgressions such as "You shall not profane My [G-d's] holy name" (Leviticus 22:32), "Do not hate your brother in your heart" (ibid. 19:17) and "You shall neither take revenge from nor bear a grudge against your people (ibid. 19:18). Rashi points out that one who profanes G-d's name can only do so by sinning intentionally. This is all too often the case regarding gossip. The temptation to speak ill of one's family, friends and acquaintances is often just too much and unfortunately, many excuse the moment s/he loses control by closing his eyes to the severity of the facts: his sin is not only an insult to members of humanity but is also, essentially, an act of rebellion, a breaking off of heavens yoke. In short, a person who speaks loshon hara ends up doing a lot more damage than he initially intended. Not only that, the loshon hara one speaks stems from some form or another of personal hatred. The act of voicing one's opinions creates a blank space where peace used to be. The Chofez Chaim advises us to avoid these scenarios and to keep the bag light.        

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