In this segment, the Chofetz Chaim adds another dimension to the
issue of loshon hora, focusing on additional sins that can be
transgressed when loshon hora is spoken about certain types of people.
For instance, if someone were to speak loshon hora about an elderly
person, he would be violating the mitzvah of In the presence of the
elderly you shall rise [and you shall beautify
Kiddushin 31b] (Vayikra 19:32), which teaches us to treat our
elders with respect and honor. Certainly, says the Chofetz Chaim, loshon
hora demonstrates a lack of respect. If the subject of loshon hora
is a Torah scholar one violates the commandment to honor a talmid
chacham, and may, in certain circumstances, be guilty of actual heresy. If
the victim ofloshon hora is a Kohen then the positive commandment
which teaches us to treat Kohanim with added respect (Vayikra
21:8), has also been transgressed.
We know that, often, people act toward those outside their family circle with more respect than they show toward the members of their own family. Many Torah sources stress that the true barometer of a persons behavior
is not how he treats people when the world is watching, but how he treats his family in the privacy of his home.Unfortunately, in some homes, ridicule plays a big part in family interaction. Sometimes, G-d forbid, a parent is the victim of these barbs, especially when the children are married and their parents are not present to hear their comments. The yetzer hara (evil inclination)
has a very effective method for opening the door to this type of loshon
hora. He says, Maybe you can refrain from speaking loshon hora
outside the home, but the boundaries of shmiras haloshon (guarding ones speech) stop at your front door. Within the family, people are close
and contact is constant, and shmiras haloshon is all but impossible.
The Chofetz Chaim teaches that speaking negatively of an older
sibling, a step-parent or, G-d forbid, a father or mother, is not only
loshon hora, it is a violation of the commandment Honor your father and
mother (Shemos 20:12). There is also a curse applied to children who
show parents disrespect: Cursed is he who degrades his father or mother
One of the primary reasons Hashem created the family unit was so
that it could be a workshop, a place for the neshamah (soul) to develop.
The home is where we learn to be less self-centered, where we develop a love of chesed (kindness) towards others. When the laws of shmiras halashon
guide the familys interactions, each neshamah which this workshop produces can develop to its full rich potential.