Torah Message from Rabbi Moldovan
Loshon hora is regarded as a particularly severe transgression of the Torah. A disease of the skin known as Tzaraas (inaccurately translated as "leprosy" in English) used to adhere to one who slandered another Jew, an unusual punishment that we don't find with other transgressions. What does Loshon hora entail? Any negative comments about another Jew, even if no harm or loss will arise from these words. Two people having a private conversation in which they discuss negative traits of their fellow (without any constructive purpose and other conditions) will be transgressing this commandment. The commentaries ask why this harmless form of slander is considered a transgression at all! No damage comes to anyone from this harmless conversation. Why is the Torah so concerned about harmless gossip. The commentaries explain that there are three types of commandment; the first are between man and God such as keeping Shabbos and Kosher, the second are those between man and man such as giving charity and doing acts of kindness, the third category is between man and himself such as improving our character traits and overcoming our anger, jealousy, and lust. Loshon Hora is in the third category of Mitzvos addressed at improving our character. Slandering another Jew is petty and self-degrading, even if no harm comes to the victim of the slander. Loshon Hora may well be harmless to the one who it was spoken about, but it is never harmless to the one who spoke it. We should keep that in mind whenever we have an opinion to voice about another Jew.