#15 – Give Rebuke

One of the most difficult mitzvos for us to do especially in our generation isהוֹכֵחַ ” תּוֹכִיחַ אֶת-עֲמִיתֶךָ”, give your friend rebuke. Explains the Chafetz Chaim that this is something that very, very often surfaces in a situation of lashon hara.

Let’s imagine for a minute that you would begin telling me a story about Reuven. At that moment you are violating a lo sa’aseh of the Torah, “לֹא תֵלֵךְ רָכִיל בְּעַמֶּיךָ”. At that moment I am obligated to set you straight, I’m obligated to help you, I’m obligated to be concerned for the damage that you’re doing not just to Reuven, but to yourself. So it’s incumbent upon me at that moment the mitzvah of “הוֹכֵחַ תּוֹכִיחַ אֶת-עֲמִיתֶךָ”.

Explains the Chafetz Chaim that many times we are reluctant to hurt other peoples’ feelings, certainly we don’t want to just walk away and make people feel badly or whatever it may be. And oftentimes we can violate “הוֹכֵחַ תּוֹכִיחַ אֶת-עֲמִיתֶךָ”. If a person is involved in speaking lashon hara it’s my job as much as I can without embarrassing him to try to alleviate that situation.

Now, many times it requires great chochmah, great wisdom. I know one young fellow who if he was home for Shabbos and people would speak lashon hara he would just stand up and leave the table. What happened was after a while people realized that whenever they spoke lashon hara he left, and it stopped the whole problem. He never gave tochachah, he never embarrassed people, but it became pretty clear that if people would speak he would leave. And again, that’s a clear example of helping a person without embarrassing him. But again, when a person speaks lashon hara automatically if I’m in that group incumbent upon me is “הוֹכֵחַ תּוֹכִיחַ אֶת-עֲמִיתֶךָ”, that mitzvas aseh. And if I don’t do what I can, then again, I could potentially have violated that mitzvas aseh myself.