Negative Support

If we take a hard look at the missteps and blunders we make in life, we will find one common denominator in most of these actions: we always have support for what we do. This support helps us overcome objections or guilt by supplying an unending list of rationalizations to free us to pursue our agenda. The source of this support is the yetzer hara (evil inclination) which joins us at birth and remains a challenge, for us to overcome until our last moment on this world.

A situation in which we should be on guard, says the Chofetz Chaim, is where we know that someone has been guilty of thievery or some other form of monetary dishonesty. If the victim is someone who is close to us, then there is a strong natural urge to inform the person of what happened and to let him know the identity of the perpetrator. However, as we have learned, we can only relate such information for a constructive purpose, and only after fulfilling the necessary conditions. If the victim cannot retrieve his money and it is clear that the crime was a “one-shot deal” and will not be repeated, then to tell the victim what happened would be to commit the sin of speaking rechilus.

The Chofetz Chaim also reminds us that we cannot relate such information even when our friend, the victim, pressures us to do so. “I know exactly what happened,” he might tell us. “Just tell me who did it.” Our yetzer hara may tell us that by remaining silent we will be risking this friendship. In truth, however, a genuine friend who really cares about the other person will not allow him to become entangled in sin, even if he will be angry because of this. Friendships are based on giving and there can be no greater gift than the gift of eternity.

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© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

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