Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: It often happens that I refrain from speaking lashon hara, but feel that resentment remains in my heart towards the person I wanted to malign. It is difficult for me to dismiss and eradicate the offense the individual committed.

Every time this happens, I am disappointed with myself. I assume that most likely there isn’t much value to the self-control over my desire to speak lashon hara. What can I do?

A: Speaking lashon hara and bearing a grudge in your heart are exclusively independent prohibitions. You have no reason to be disappointed with yourself for the grudge that remains in your heart. The fact that you managed to control yourself from speaking denotes great success! You are really strong.

There is no doubt that there is great value in every bit of restraint from negative talk. For every minute that a person controls his tongue …. (Chofetz Chaim, in the name of the Gr”a, from Chazal.)

Regarding the resentment that remains in your heart, a number of Torah prohibitions are involved: “Lo sisna es achicha bilvavecha,” “V’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha,” and more. You must certainly exert yourself to fulfill the mitzvah of “Love your fellow Jew as yourself” by making efforts to favorably judge someone who offended you. Perhaps they didn’t realize, or they didn’t think how much it could hurt. You can thereby defuse the resentment and [eventually] negate it altogether. Even if you don’t manage to do so immediately, over time, with Hashem’s help, you will meet with great success in this area, too. “One who works to purify himself is assisted from Above.”