Shemiras Halashon Halachos

Chofetz Chaim – Introduction (2)

If we investigate our ways and examine which sins are the main cause of our long exile, we will find many. However, the sin of the tongue rises above them all for many reasons: First, because this was the main cause of the exile. If so, so long as we do not emend this sin, how can there be a redemption? If this was the sin that caused the exile from our land, how much more will it prevent the return to our land! Furthermore, we know that exile was decreed upon us from the time of the sin of the spies as it says in Psalms (106:26-27): "He raised His hand to them to make them fall… among the nations and to scatter them in the lands," as Rashi explains there. Now, the spies' sin was lashon hara and if so, we must emend this sin before the redemption. Also, we find explicitly that this sin causes Israel to be subject to harsh servitude, for it says in parshas Shemos (2:1), "Indeed, the matter is known." Furthermore, the Midrash Raba explicitly states (Devarim Raba 6:14): The Holy One said – In this world, because there was evil report among you I removed My Divine Presence from among you, but in the future to come, etc." Also, the verse clearly states in parshas Beracha (Devarim 33:5): "There will be a king in Yeshurun when the heads of the nation gather; together the tribes of Israel." And Rashi explains that when will there be a king in Yeshurun? Only when the tribes of Israel are together and not in disparate groups, and it is known that this comes about through lashon hara. Besides, how can we receive Hashem's blessings that we yearn for, if we are habituated to this sin? Is there not an explicit curse regarding this in the Torah (Devarim 27:24), "Cursed be he who strikes his fellow in secret," which is speaking of lashon hara, besides the other curses mentioned there. In addition, we know from the Gemara in Erchin (15b), that this sin is limitless in extent to the point that they say one who transgresses it denies a principle of faith, heaven forefend. And the Yerushalmi in Pe'ah (1:1) states that a person is punished for this sin in this world and the main punishment is reserved for the world to come. See later in the opening and in my book, Shmiras Halashon, where we cite all the passages of the Shas, Midrash, and Zohar that touch on this subject. If someone looks and ponders well over them, his hair will rise at the greatness of this sin.