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s I look back at my childhood years, one individual remains etched in my memories from over half a century ago. That larger-than-life figure is unquestionably the Chofetz Chaim ztz”l.

I can recall, even as a young boy, hearing incredible anecdotes of this physically small man who towered head and shoulders above all as a spiritual giant. I remember hearing how someone was upset with his halachic ruling and pushed the Chofetz Chaim into the mud. I was awed when I learned that his only response was to run after the man while shouting, “Don’t worry, I forgive you!”

The Chofetz Chaim’s dedication to disseminating the halachos against gossip among all of Jewry remains his greatest legacy. That he singlehandedly influenced his generation, and generations of Jews to come, to at least attempt curb their tongues and watch their speech is miraculous. He changed the world for the better, and we are forever indebted to this “simple Yid” from Radin.

Recently, I witnessed firsthand the wisdom of the Chofetz Chaim in his attempt to dam the floodgates of lashon hara and the benefits it would bring to all.

It follows that those who choose not to follow his sagacious advice are subject to the deleterious and destructive consequences of their nonconformance to the law.

Laibel Schlechter (all names changed) is an individual who qualifies as a “baal lashon hara.” Although I have implored him to cease and desist from hurtful and injurious speech, my pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

One of his most frequent targets is his next-door neighbor.

Hershel Eidelman is the best next-door neighbor anyone could daven for. He’s respectful, minds his own business, never makes noise, and makes sure to keep his property immaculate. Nevertheless, for 20 years, Laibel has maligned the Eidelmans and broadcast his criticism of them all over town.

He claimed the Eidelmans were inattentive to snow removal. This was an entirely fraudulent charge as the Eidelmans not only shoveled their own walkway, they also shoveled Mr. Garrabidi’s. Mr. Garrabidi was an elderly Italian neighbor who could no longer shovel snow. Laibel would complain because the Eidelmans cleared Mr. Garrabidi’s driveway before they did their own.

Laibel complained that their lights on Shabbos don’t go off until 11, preventing him from sleeping. He never bothered to mention that he could lower his shade to prevent the light from shining into his house but is just too lazy to do so.

For 20 years, Laibel has disparaged the Eidelmans to everyone and anyone. He is a rabblerouser and propagator of lashon hara, a proponent of motzi sheim ra, as all of his allegations are concocted fabrications of deceit and distortion. Despite my pleas and warnings that his mudslinging would come back to haunt him, he continued with his blubbering burble of backstabbing slander.

Yet as the Chofetz Chaim teaches, Hashem has His ways.

Recently, Laibel Schlechter decided to move to a retirement community in Florida.

Curiously, although his home is located in the prime section of town, all potential buyers inevitably looked elsewhere and his house remained perpetually unsold, despite its choice location.

One day Laibel called his realtor and asked, “What’s going on? Why can’t you sell my house?”

After hemming and hawing, the realtor disclosed to Laibel, “The truth is, Mr. Schlechter, that you have done such an excellent job at defaming your neighbors that everyone who inquires about your house refuses to buy. Who wants to live next to a couple as cantankerous as you have depicted the Eidelmans?!”

Laibel Schlechter has still not sold his house. However, he has at least ceased his barrage of belittling the Eidelmans, as he has learned firsthand, “What goes around comes around.” (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 731)