A number of years ago in Monsey, New York, there was a community wide uproar. It was discovered, that one of the local butchers was selling treif meat. Regularly, systematically, intentionally, he sold meat that wasn’t kosher. But it wasn’t just his own butcher shop; where people bought meat. He also sold to many of the wedding halls, yeshivos, and schools. As a result, thousands of people had eaten non-kosher meat thinking it was kosher.
Needless to say, everyone was aghast. Not only at the seriousness of the situation, but with the question of how could it be? How could it happen? And how could a Jew knowingly entrap other Jews in sin.
The town itself declared a fast day. He had to run away to Israel. To this day, people can’t forgive him for such a horrific act.
Yet, if we put this into perspective we might find an interesting parallel.
If you regularly speak lashon hara, then on a continual basis you are violating many Torah prohibitions. But it’s not just you who are sinning. Anyone that you tell this to also has transgressed the prohibition of listening to lashon hara. And even further, if each of those people tells others, they too have violated many issurim by speaking. And all of the people who they told it to, have violated listening to lashon hara.
So if in the normal course of your day, you tell six people some lashon hara, and they then tell another six people, it spreads to others who tell others. And you hav violated hundreds of Torah prohibitions. And it’s not just one day, and it’s not just one story. What comes out is that you are regularly and systematically violating hundreds, if not thousands of issurei haTorah, as many if not more, than that butcher who sold treif meat.
Treif meat we get all bent out of shape over, but when it comes to something that the Torah clearly forbids and tells us is far worse, suddenly we’re much more easygoing. The reality is that the Torah has a system of measure. Speaking lashon hara is certainly worse than eating treif meat. Unless a person learns to guard his tongue, he violates many multiple times more issurim than the amount of treif meat than he would ever eat in his life.