Hilchos Rechilus — conclusion
After completing his discussion of shidduchim, the Chofetz Chofetz concludes his masterpiece with the following:
It was my intention to offer other illustrations, regarding craftsmen, hired laborers and servants. However, because of the high cost of printing and my preoccupation with other matters at this time, I have refrained from doing so.
The general rule is: One needs to maintain a careful watch over his own behavior, especially the words that he utters. He should not become involved in matters bein adam la’chaveiro without first clarifying the facts thoroughly. His intention should be to accomplish something constructive, and he should not act out of hatred. He should ponder the results that his words will cause, so that nothing will occur that is contrary to halachah, G-d forbid. If he does so, Hashem will assist him so that he will not be ensnared in the yetzer hara’s trap.
May the Rock of Israel save us from any errors and show us the wonders of His Torah. Blessed is Hashem forever, amen v’amen.
The Chofetz Chaim mentions the high cost of printing. In Rabbi Moshe Yoshor’s biography of the Chofetz Chaim, he writes that the Chofetz Chaim borrowed 1,000 rubles for the printing of the first edition of Sefer Chofetz Chaim. To ensure that he would be able to repay these loans, he traveled to towns in the vicinity of his hometown, Radin, and obtained signatures of 1,000 subscribers who would purchase the sefer upon its publication.
Thus, we see that it was with great mesiras nefesh that the Chofetz Chaim published this work.
Yet, he took no credit for Sefer Chofetz Chaim and its companion work, Sefer Shemiras HaLashon, publishing them anonymously. In his memoirs, the Chofetz Chaim’s son, R’ Aryeh Leib, wrote:
I once asked my father why he published Sefer Chofetz Chaim anonymously. He replied, “It was not in my merit that these works came to be published; it was in the collective merit of the Jewish people. For perhaps through the study of these works, we will see a diminishing of the sin of lashon hara, which caused the death of the Dor HaMidbar, the destruction of the second Beis HaMikdash, and our dispersion among the gentiles. Thus, the honor for publishing this work is not mine.”
R’ Aryeh Leib also wrote of his father’s personal caution in matters of speech:
With regard to shemiras halashon, it is my feeling that my father surpassed his entire generation. Most incredible was the fact that he was not a man who refrained from talking, and he was the main speaker at every gathering. No one ever claimed to have heard my father say something improper or derogatory.
Let us resolve to remain talmidim of the Chofetz Chaim all our lives by reviewing his teachings again and again, and striving to live by them. In this way, we will live happier and more spiritual lives, and will play an important role in ending this galus through the coming of Mashiach, speedily and in our times.
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