#14 – Keep Your Brother Alive With You

Another mitzvas aseh that’s not as common, but certainly can apply is”וְחֵי אָחִיךָ עִמָּךְ”. We are obligated to keep our brother alive with us. What that means is if I can loan a person money, if I can help them out, if I can give them michyeh, life, sustenance, whatever it may be, I have a full mitzvas aseh to help him to keep him alive.

Now, there are many times when people violate lashon hara and don’t realize the gravity of what they say. “You know, I bought some baked goods in that place – eh, it’s garbage. The stuff is so stale, I can’t even eat it.” “I went to that restaurant – ech, barely edible.” What happens is oftentimes without meaning to we say derogatory words that cause a Jew a loss of income. You see, if I tell you that such and such’s food stinks or his service isn’t good or he’s not a particularly bright person, clearly you’re not going to hire him. Even though I didn’t intend to cause a person loss, but if two days later, two weeks later, two years later you’re looking to hire someone and you know that I told you that so-and-so is pretty incompetent, obviously you’re not going to hire him.

Now, there is a concept that we’ll get involved later in called lashon hara l’toeles, meaning a time when you’re allowed to and you’re obligated to say. If you’re looking to hire someone and I can protect you from hiring the wrong person, that’s not lashon hara, that’s l’toeles and it’s proper. But if we’re just gabbing, we’re just talking and I’m talking about this person, what he does, he’s a lousy workman or he’s a lousy baker or chef whatever it may be and I’m just saying it, even if it’s true but I’m not doing it for a toeles, I’m not doing it for a constructive purpose, it’s lashon hara. Even if his baked goods really don’t taste good, even if the service in a restaurant really isn’t good. If I’m just saying that not because I want to help you so you could protect yourself, I’m just saying it because I’m just saying it, it’s lashon hara. Additionally, explains the Chafetz Chaim, “וְחֵי אָחִיךָ עִמָּךְ”, keeping your brother alive with you, you’re potentially damaging his income, damaging his business, and it would violate this mitzvas aseh as well.