A stark warning about listening to lashon hara about the Tzaddik
It’s known that Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita, has always pursued the paths of peace, and has urged his followers to treat his persecutors with the utmost respect and compassion. In his first statement after leaving house arrest, Rav Berland told his followers that they should go out of the way to do favors for their persecutors, and that they should carry them through the street on their shoulders.
But recently, the Rav has started to take a harder line about the people who have continued to speak and spread lashon hara and slander against the tzaddikim, and has made a number of statements about the very difficult situation these individuals will find themselves in, if they don’t swiftly make teshuva.
The following is an excerpt of a recent statement that the Rav made on the topic of speaking and listening to lashon hara, or evil speech, last week. He said:
“If you hear people speaking against the Tzaddik, you have to immediately protest! And to start yelling and shouting about it! If you don’t protest, then you’ll have worms coming out of your ears [because you listened to the slander without protesting], as occurred with Rabbi Elazar the son of Rabbi Shimon.
“So, every time you don’t protest [about the lashon hara you’re being told], worms will come out of your ears. If you miss 100 opportunities to protest, so a million worms will come out of your ears!”
This is a reference to the punishment apportioned to the spies, or meraglim, who spoke badly of Eretz Yisrael, and were punished with an awful plague. Commenting on this verse, Rashi explains that the plague was a special form of death appropriate to their sin.
“Measure for measure, their death mirrored their sin. Since they sinned with the tongue, their tongues elongated to their navels. From those stretched-out tongues exited worms, which then entered them through their navels.”
Worms, or maggots, are typically found wherever there is death and spiritual corruption.