Weekly Letter: Loshoh Hora, a Negative Experience

In connection with the topic of tzora’as in this week’s parsha, one of the causes of which Chazal attribute to the speaking of loshon hora/slander, we present a letter of the Rebbe where he refers to loshoh hora in the context of a negative experience the correspondent refers to in his letter to the Rebbe. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s trusted secretary Rabbi Nissan Mindel.

By the Grace of G-d
14 th of Menachem Av, 5741
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Livingston, N.J.

Greeting and Blessing:
This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter. Needless to say, I was sorry to read about the event which
you describe in your letter, and which has so upset you that you missed a se’udas Shabbos.
This is particularly regrettable, since Hashem generally wants Jews to feel happy at all times and even
more so on Shabbos, which is called a “delight’ (oneg Shabbos).
At the same time, I must take exception to your remark that associates this experience with being
Orthodox, as if being Orthodox is to blame for the misconduct.
To be sure, of an Orthodox Jew one expects a higher level of conduct in inter-human relations, since the
laws of “man’s duty to man” is part of “man’s duties to G-d.” And perhaps this is what you had in mind,
though the impression of your letter does not reflect this view, and simply blames Orthodox Yiddishkeit.
To illustrate the point: suppose one sees a person coming out of a hospital limping on one leg, one
thoughtless conclusion might be that the hospital is to blame for it. However, if the facts were known
that, for example, the man had been paralyzed in both legs and had one leg completely cured and the
other considerably improved, and well on the way to complete recovery, obviously the medical
treatment he had received at the hospital would be recognized as highly effective.
There are, of course, various ways of looking at a particular situation. And one way of looking at the
situation which you describe in your letter is that it is all the greater pity that a person is in such a situation that he finds it necessary to turn for help in a manner which he did, and which should,
therefore, evoke all the greater compassion.
I hope and pray that despite this unpleasant experience, it will in no way weaken your commitment to
tzedoko and Yiddishkeit but on the contrary, since all matters of goodness and holiness, Torah and
mitzvos, should be on the ascendancy.
With blessing,

P.S. I appreciate very much the fact that you did not identify the person in your letter, which is in
keeping with the teaching of our Torah, Toras Chayim. For the Torah teaches that speaking disparagingly
of a person (loshon hora) is harmful also for the person to whom it is spoken, and not only for the
person involved. By omitting the name of the person involved, you have spared both yourself and me.

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