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.