Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: I learned in the sefer Chofetz Chaim that the merits of one who speaks lashon hara are passed on to the subject of his slander, and in their place the slanderer receives the sins of the person he spoke against. I find it difficult to understand the concept, as it says that a mitzvah doesn’t nullify an aveirah, and we also know that mitzvos are eternal. How is it possible that the slanderer loses his mitzvos?

 A: A similar question was brought up a number of years ago, and our answer was printed in The Quest for Peace, published by Mishmeres HaSholom (p. 78). For the benefit of our readers, we quote:

“The Chofetz Chaim quotes the Chovos Halevavos as saying that the merits of a baal lashon hara are transferred to the subject of his talk. The explanation for this is that every mitzvah is an individual creation comprised of many intricate components which can be attached or shed according to the lashon hara that is spoken. The significance is that an extensive lashon hara causes greater damage to our mitzvosbut teshuvah has the power to restore the mitzvos to their original doer. All we, who have no concept of these enigmatic ideas, have to do, is strengthen ourselves in the belief that the losses lashon hara generate are of tremendous proportions.”

This explains what the Chovos Halevavos seemingly intended. (Shaar Hakniah 7)

It should also be noted that the Orchos Tzaddikim (Shaar Ha’anavah) writes something similar. And the Maggid Meisharim (Parashas Vayakhel) explains that the angel said this to the Beis Yosef.

This concept is also brought down in many sefarim written by great leaders. Michtav Me’Eliyahu (pp. 213–214) explains this concept, as does my friend, Hagaon Harav Mordechai Potash, shlita, in Darkei Shalom (pp. 77–82). Hagaon Harav Yaakov Chaim Sofer, shlita, elaborates on the topic in his booklet Imrei Chaim, which is printed in Chofetz Chaim – Aleh Be’er (pp. 21–32).

These are hidden ideas with very deep meanings which are way above our limited understanding.


The following questions and answers were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at office@hasholom.org or call 972-2 5379160.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hamodia.