In this section, the Chofetz Chaim focuses on the players in the sin of loshon hora: the speaker, the listener and the subject. He begins with some important rules about the subject. Contrary to public belief, one is not allowed to speak loshon hora about his or her relatives, including one’s spouse. The Chofetz Chaim says that many people stumble into this type of loshon hora by rationalizing that most negative talk about family members is not intended to malign, but to voice disapproval. This, of course, is not permitted by halachah. When a relative commits a wrong, one has no right to “put the issue on the table” for open discussion.
Of course, there are times when issues may be discussed l’toeles, for a constructive purpose, as when a sibling has done something wrong and this needs to be told to a parent.
However, cautions the Chofetz Chaim, even in such cases, all seven conditions of toeles (which will be discussed later; see Day 77) must be met. One of the conditions is that the speaker bears no ill will towards the subject and is not recounting the loshon hora to denigrate him. Unfortunately, at times this is the motivation of children when they inform their parents of misdeeds of their siblings. This type of loshon hora can be extremely damaging to family unity; the many roadblocks erected by halachah help us to proceed with caution as we approach this dangerous area.