Chapter 7ז׳
1 א

הַמְרַגֵּל בַּחֲבֵרוֹ עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט טז) "לֹא תֵלֵךְ רָכִיל בְּעַמֶּיךָ". וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין לוֹקִין עַל דָּבָר זֶה עָוֹן גָּדוֹל הוּא וְגוֹרֵם לַהֲרֹג נְפָשׁוֹת רַבּוֹת מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל. לְכָךְ נִסְמָךְ לוֹ (ויקרא יט טז) "וְלֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל דַּם רֵעֶךָ". צֵא וּלְמַד מָה אֵרַע לְדוֹאֵג הָאֲדֹמִי:

He who bears tales against his fellow violates a prohibitive commandment, saying: "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people" (Lev. 19.16.); and although the punishment of flogging is not inflicted for violating this charge, it is a gross iniquity, and is the cause of the slaughtering of many souls in Israel; it is because thereof, that following this commandment is this Verse: "Neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor" (Ibid.). Now, go ye and learn of that which happened to Doeg the Edomite.1First Samuel, 22.9-19. G.

2 ב

אֵי זֶהוּ רָכִיל. זֶה שֶׁטּוֹעֵן דְּבָרִים וְהוֹלֵךְ מִזֶּה לָזֶה וְאוֹמֵר כָּךְ אָמַר פְּלוֹנִי כָּךְ וְכָךְ שָׁמַעְתִּי עַל פְּלוֹנִי. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא אֱמֶת הֲרֵי זֶה מַחֲרִיב אֶת הָעוֹלָם. יֵשׁ עָוֹן גָּדוֹל מִזֶּה עַד מְאֹד וְהוּא בִּכְלַל לָאו זֶה וְהוּא לָשׁוֹן הָרַע. וְהוּא הַמְסַפֵּר בִּגְנוּת חֲבֵרוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאוֹמֵר אֱמֶת. אֲבָל הָאוֹמֵר שֶׁקֶר נִקְרָא מוֹצִיא שֵׁם רַע עַל חֲבֵרוֹ. אֲבָל בַּעַל לָשׁוֹן הָרַע זֶה שֶׁיּוֹשֵׁב וְאוֹמֵר כָּךְ וְכָךְ עָשָׂה פְּלוֹנִי וְכָךְ וְכָךְ הָיוּ אֲבוֹתָיו וְכָךְ וְכָךְ שָׁמַעְתִּי עָלָיו וְאָמַר דְּבָרִים שֶׁל גְּנַאי. עַל זֶה אָמַר הַכָּתוּב (תהילים יב ד) "יַכְרֵת ה' כָּל שִׂפְתֵי חֲלָקוֹת לָשׁוֹן מְדַבֶּרֶת גְּדלוֹת":

Who is a sycophant? One who loads himself up with matters, and goes from this one to that one, saying to each, such did that man say, thus and such have I heard concerning that man, even though it be true, behold him, he destroys the universe. There is yet an extremely grosser iniquity, which, too, is included in this prohibitive commandment, and that is, the evil tongue, one who spreads scandal about his fellow even though he be telling truth. If he be lying, he is called a maligner who invents an evil name against his fellow. The owner of an evil tongue, behold him, he sits in company and relates, saying: thus and such did that certain party, thus and such were his parents, and thus and such I did hear about him and of course, he relates scandalous matters. Of him, the Verse says: "May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that speaketh proud things" (Ps. 12.4).

3 ג

אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים שָׁלֹשׁ עֲבֵרוֹת נִפְרָעִין מִן הָאָדָם בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְאֵין לוֹ חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים וְגִלּוּי עֲרָיוֹת וּשְׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים. וְלָשׁוֹן הָרַע כְּנֶגֶד כֻּלָּם. וְעוֹד אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים כָּל הַמְסַפֵּר בְּלָשׁוֹן הָרַע כְּאִלּוּ כּוֹפֵר בָּעִקָּר. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים יב ה) "אֲשֶׁר אָמְרוּ לִלְשֹׁנֵנוּ נַגְבִּיר שְׂפָתֵינוּ אִתָּנוּ מִי אָדוֹן לָנוּ". וְעוֹד אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים שְׁלֹשָׁה לָשׁוֹן הָרַע הוֹרֶגֶת. הָאוֹמְרוֹ. וְהַמְקַבְּלוֹ. וְזֶה שֶׁאוֹמֵר עָלָיו. וְהַמְקַבְּלוֹ יוֹתֵר מִן הָאוֹמְרוֹ:

The wise men said: "There are three transgresssions which call forth retribution from the man who perpetrates in this world, and disinherit him from a share in the world to come. They are: idolatry, adultery, and bloodshed; but the evil tongue outweighs them all" (Arakin, 16b). The wise men, moreover, said:3Arakin, 16b. G. "He who speaks with an evil tongue is like an atheist, for it is said: 'Who have said, Our tongues will we make mighty, our lips are with us, who is Lord over us'"? (Ps. 12.5.). And, again, the wise men said: "The evil tongue kills three persons, the one who speaks it, the one of whom it is spoken, and the one who receives it". In fact, the greatest harm comes to the one who receives the evil report.4Ibid.; Shabbat, 56. G.

4 ד

וְיֵשׁ דְּבָרִים שֶׁהֵן אֲבַק לָשׁוֹן הָרַע. כֵּיצַד. מִי יֹאמַר לִפְלוֹנִי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה כְּמוֹת שֶׁהוּא עַתָּה. אוֹ שֶׁיֹּאמַר שִׁתְקוּ מִפְּלוֹנִי אֵינִי רוֹצֶה לְהוֹדִיעַ מָה אֵרַע וּמֶה הָיָה. וְכַיּוֹצֵא בַּדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ. וְכָל הַמְסַפֵּר בְּטוֹבַת חֲבֵרוֹ בִּפְנֵי שׂוֹנְאָיו הֲרֵי זֶה אֲבַק לָשׁוֹן הָרַע שֶׁזֶּה גּוֹרֵם לָהֶם שֶׁיְּסַפְּרוּ בִּגְנוּתוֹ. וְעַל זֶה הָעִנְיָן אָמַר שְׁלֹמֹה (משלי כז יד) "מְבָרֵךְ רֵעֵהוּ בְּקוֹל גָּדוֹל בַּבֹּקֶר הַשְׁכֵּים קְלָלָה תֵּחָשֶׁב לוֹ". שֶׁמִּתּוֹךְ טוֹבָתוֹ בָּא לִידֵי רָעָתוֹ. וְכֵן הַמְסַפֵּר בְּלָשׁוֹן הָרַע דֶּרֶךְ שְׂחוֹק וְדֶרֶךְ קַלּוּת רֹאשׁ כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְדַבֵּר בְּשִׂנְאָה. הוּא שֶׁשְּׁלֹמֹה אָמַר בְּחָכְמָתוֹ (משלי כו יח) "כְּמִתְלַהְלֵהַּ הַיֹּרֶה זִקִּים חִצִּים וָמָוֶת" (משלי כו יט) "וְאָמַר הֲלֹא מְשַׂחֵק אָנִי". וְכֵן הַמְסַפֵּר לָשׁוֹן הָרַע דֶּרֶךְ רַמָּאוּת וְהוּא שֶׁיְּסַפֵּר לְתֻמּוֹ כְּאִלּוּ אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁדָּבָר זֶה שֶׁדִּבֵּר לָשׁוֹן הָרַע הוּא אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁמְּמַחִין בּוֹ אוֹמֵר אֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁדָּבָר זֶה לָשׁוֹן הָרַע אוֹ שֶׁאֵלּוּ מַעֲשָׂיו שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי:

And, there are certain kinds of words which are the grinding of the evil tongue. For example: One will say, "Who will tell that person to be as he is now"? Or he will say: "Hold your peace concerning that person, I am disinclined to relate what happened, or what was", or like such expressions. Even he who tells the good qualities of his fellow in the presence of his fellow's enemies is making grinding of an evil tongue, because he calls forth his fellow's shame from the mouths of his enemies and concerning this subject Solomon said: "He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him" (Prov. 27.14). Out of his goodness for him, he brings about evil to him. Likewise, he who tells with an evil tongue under the guise of a joke, or lightheadedness, that is, he does not speak it in tones of hatred, even of him Solomon in his wisdom said: "As a madman who casteth firebrands, arrows and death; so is the man that deceiveth his neighbor and saith, 'Am not I in sport?'" (Ibid. 26 18–19.). Among such is also the one who uses an evil tongue deceitfully, relating innocently, as if ignorant that his speech be words of an evil tongue, but when there is a protest against what he says, he avers that he does not know that such tale is evil speech, or that such was really the conduct of that person.6Yeru. Pe’ah, 1; Shabbat, 33a. C. G.

5 ה

אֶחָד הַמְסַפֵּר בְּלָשׁוֹן הָרַע בִּפְנֵי חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא בְּפָנָיו, וְהַמְסַפֵּר דְּבָרִים שֶׁגּוֹרְמִים אִם נִשְׁמְעוּ אִישׁ מִפִּי אִישׁ לְהַזִּיק חֲבֵרוֹ בְּגוּפוֹ אוֹ בְּמָמוֹנוֹ, וַאֲפִלּוּ לְהָצֵר לוֹ אוֹ לְהַפְחִידוֹ, הֲרֵי זֶה לָשׁוֹן הָרַע. וְאִם נֶאֶמְרוּ דְּבָרִים אֵלּוּ בִּפְנֵי שְׁלֹשָׁה כְּבָר נִשְׁמַע הַדָּבָר וְנוֹדַע. וְאִם סִפֵּר הַדָּבָר אֶחָד מִן הַשְּׁלֹשָׁה פַּעַם אַחֶרֶת אֵין בּוֹ מִשּׁוּם לָשׁוֹן הָרַע. וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא יִתְכַּוֵּן לְהַעֲבִיר הַקּוֹל וּלְגַלּוֹתוֹ יוֹתֵר:

Regardless of whether the slander is spoken in the presence of his fellow, or in his absence, or if the slander spread from mouth to mouth cause harm to his fellow, to his body, or property, even to cause him anguish, or fear to his soul, behold this is the iniquity of an evil tongue. If such evil be spoken in the presence of three persons, the matter is thereby considered public. Thus, if one of the three who heard it repeat it to others no sin of an evil tongue is found therein, provided that in re-telling it he had no intention to spread the rumor and advertise it still more.7Arakin, 16b. C. G.

6 ו

כָּל אֵלּוּ הֵם בַּעֲלֵי לָשׁוֹן הָרַע שֶׁאָסוּר לָדוּר בִּשְׁכוּנָתָם וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן לֵישֵׁב עִמָּהֶם וְלִשְׁמֹעַ דִּבְרֵיהֶם. וְלֹא נֶחְתַּם גְּזַר דִּין עַל אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר אֶלָּא עַל לָשׁוֹן הָרַע לְבַד:

All such are owners of an evil tongue, in whose neighborhood it is forbidden to dwell, needless to say to be in their company and listen to their words. The doom against our fathers in the wilderness was not sealed for aught else, save for that of an evil tongue.8Ibid. C.

7 ז

הַנּוֹקֵם מֵחֲבֵרוֹ עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר לֹא תִקֹּם. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה עָלָיו דֵּעָה רָעָה הִיא עַד מְאֹד. אֶלָּא רָאוּי לוֹ לָאָדָם לִהְיוֹת מַעֲבִיר עַל מִדּוֹתָיו עַל כָּל דִּבְרֵי הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהַכּל אֵצֶל הַמְּבִינִים דִּבְרֵי הֶבֶל וַהֲבַאי וְאֵינָן כְּדַאי לִנְקֹם עֲלֵיהֶם. כֵּיצַד הִיא הַנְּקִימָה. אָמַר לוֹ חֲבֵרוֹ הַשְׁאִילֵנִי קַרְדֻּמְךָ, אָמַר לוֹ אֵינִי מַשְׁאִילְךָ. לְמָחָר צָרִיךְ לִשְׁאל מִמֶּנּוּ, אָמַר לוֹ חֲבֵרוֹ הַשְׁאִילֵנִי קַרְדֻּמְךָ, אָמַר לוֹ אֵינִי מַשְׁאִילְךָ כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁלֹּא הִשְׁאַלְתַּנִי כְּשֶׁשָּׁאַלְתִּי מִמְּךָ, הֲרֵי זֶה נוֹקֵם. אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁיָּבוֹא לוֹ לִשְׁאל יִתֵּן בְּלֵב שָׁלֵם וְלֹא יִגְמל לוֹ כַּאֲשֶׁר גְּמָלוֹ. וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּאֵלּוּ. וְכֵן אָמַר דָּוִד בְּדֵעוֹתָיו הַטּוֹבוֹת (תהילים ז ה) "אִם גָּמַלְתִּי שׁוֹלְמִי רָע וָאֲחַלְּצָה" וְגוֹ':

He who takes vengeance of his fellow violates the prohibitive commandment of, "Thou shalt not take vengeance" (Lev. 19.18.); and, even though he is not flogged for the violation, it is an extremely evil tendency. Forsooth, it becomes man to be indulgent in his ethical conduct in all temporal matters, for, to those who can reason all worldly matters are vanity and absurdity, unworthy to call forth vengeance on their account. How is the sin of taking vengeance established? Said his friend to him: "Lend me your ax". Answered he: "No, I will not lend it to you." On the morrow, he needs to borrow an ax himself. Says he to his friend: "Lend me your ax." Answered his friend: "No, I will not lend it to you, even as you refused to lend it to me when I asked for it." Behold, this one takes vengeance. For when one comes to lend aught of the other, he should give it to him whole-heartedly, and not to deal with him as he was dealt with by him. And so in all like matters. Even so David expressed it in his good ethical ideas: "If I have requited him that did evil unto me, or spoiled mine adversary unto emptiness etc." (Ps. 7.5).9Yoma, 23a; Rosh ha-Shanah, 17b; Sifra, Lev. 4. C. G.

8 ח

וְכֵן כָּל הַנּוֹטֵר לְאֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא יט יח) "וְלֹא תִטֹּר אֶת בְּנֵי עַמֶּךָ". כֵּיצַד הִיא הַנְּטִירָה. רְאוּבֵן שֶׁאָמַר לְשִׁמְעוֹן הַשְׂכֵּר לִי בַּיִת זֶה אוֹ הַשְׁאִילֵנִי שׁוֹר זֶה וְלֹא רָצָה שִׁמְעוֹן. לְיָמִים בָּא שִׁמְעוֹן לִרְאוּבֵן לִשְׁאל מִמֶּנּוּ אוֹ לִשְׂכֹּר מִמֶּנּוּ וְאָמַר לוֹ רְאוּבֵן הֵא לְךָ הֲרֵינִי מַשְׁאִילְךָ וְאֵינִי כְּמוֹתְךָ לֹא אֲשַׁלֵּם לְךָ כְּמַעֲשֶׂיךָ. הָעוֹשֶׂה כָּזֶה עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תִטֹּר. אֶלָּא יִמְחֶה הַדָּבָר מִלִּבּוֹ וְלֹא יִטְּרֶנּוּ. שֶׁכָּל זְמַן שֶׁהוּא נוֹטֵר אֶת הַדָּבָר וְזוֹכְרוֹ שֶׁמָּא יָבוֹא לִנְקֹם. לְפִיכָךְ הִקְפִּידָה תּוֹרָה עַל הַנְּטִירָה עַד שֶׁיִּמְחֶה הֶעָוֹן מִלִּבּוֹ וְלֹא יִזְכְּרֶנּוּ כְּלָל. וְזוֹ הִיא הַדֵּעָה הַנְּכוֹנָה שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיִּתְקַיֵּם בָּהּ יִשּׁוּב הָאָרֶץ וּמַשָּׂאָם וּמַתָּנָם שֶׁל בְּנֵי אָדָם זֶה עִם זֶה:

Likewise, whoso bears a grudge against one in Israel, violates a prohibitive commandment, saying: "Nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people" (Lev. 19.18.). How is the sin of bearing a grudge established? Said Reuben to Simeon: "Lease me this house, or lend me this ox." Simeon refused. After an interval comes Simeon to Reuben to lease or lend aught from him. Said Reuben to him: "Here, you may have it, behold, I am lending it to you, for I am not as you are, I will not pay you as you deserve." He who does so violates the prohibitive commandment of, "Thou shalt bear no grudge." For, he should blot the thing out of his heart completely, and not lodge it therein. Forsooth, as long as he bears the matter and remembers it, he might be tempted to take vengeance. It is on account of this that the Torah is particular concerning the bearing of a grudge to blot such sin out of his heart and not remember it at all. This, is the proper ethical idea which makes possible the stability of organized society and the business relationship between man and man upon earth.10Megillah, 2G.