#20 – Distance Yourself From Falsehood

Another mitzvas aseh that a person could often be over when he speaks lashon hara is “מִדְּבַר שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק”. One is obligated to distance himself from lies. Oftentimes, explains the Chafetz Chaim, when you tell a story it kind of gets embellished a little bit. Like, this is what happened but you add a little twist, a little nuance, a little nusach, a little bit that adds something. And oftentimes that little adding something, not only does it increase the lashon hara, not only does it defame or debase the person worse, it also violates “מִדְּבַר שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק”.

We have an obligation to be totally, completely honest. To report what I see, sometimes I’m allowed to report it, sometimes not. But certainly if I am or I’m not allowed to report it, if I change it, if I color it, if I add to it, then what I’m doing is I’m violating “מִדְּבַר שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק”. I’m obligated from the Torah to distance myself very, very far from sheker and if I’m coloring my speech and changing things I can’t help but violate this mitzvas aseh.

I remember the Rosh Yeshiva, zatzal, used to say in the name of his father, what does it mean “מִדְּבַר שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק”? How far does one have to distance himself? Very, very far. One has to run away from lies. Now, the truth is that when a person speaks lashon hara it’s almost impossible to distance yourself. Because we all like to tell good stories and not bad stories. We don’t want to tell bland stories. So it’s almost impossible when you tell over something not to embellish, not to add, not to color it. So again, almost automatically when you’re telling over derogatory information not only do you violate the normal lo sa’asehs and asehs, in addition oftentimes “מִדְּבַר שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק”, distancing oneself from sheker is something that you also violate.