When commenting, in writing, on the opinion of a talmid
Chochom, a person should be careful to express his objections in a way
that demonstrates respect and humility. Just as it is forbidden to speak
disrespectfully of a talmid chochom, it is forbidden to write in a way
that is disrespectful.
The prohibition of showing disrespect for a talmid
chochom includes embarrassing another person in front of him, for the very
fact that a person would not feel ashamed to do so in his presence shows that
he does not really respect him.
The prohibition of showing disrespect for a talmidei
chochom also includes saying lashon hora or receiving lashon
hora about a talmid chochom. When hearing lashon hora about
a talmid chochom, a person should, according to his abilities, rebuke
the person who is speaking lashon hora and cover his ears, as Rebbe
Elazar used to do (Makos 24a), as it is written “who seals his ears from
hearing of bloodshed…(Yeshaya 33:15).
To call a talmid chochom by his name alone, without
the title which is fitting for a person of his stature, is also forbidden, as
is, of course, addressing him in a way that is degrading.
The avera of showing disrespect for a talmid
chochom is more severe according to the number of people who witness it.
It is a great avera even when a person does so unintentionally, for the
violation of the prohibition of showing disrespect for talmidei chochomim does
not require intention. Similarly, it is forbidden to express disrespect by
implication, as by saying something that implies disrespect but does not
express it directly.
A talmid chochom who scorns the mitzvos and has no yiras
Shamayim is considered to be among the least respected members of the
community, though only a great Torah scholar and a true talmid chochom is
capable of judging another talmid chochom’s attitude toward mitzvos
or his yiras Shamayim. Certainly, the fact that a talmid chochom disagrees
with a person’s ideas is not a basis for making such a judgment.
A talmid chochom must be very careful to avoid
anything which might cause people to speak disrespectfully of him. He should
keep in mind that the unlearned have their eyes on the talmidei chochomim. The
Chafetz Chaim once mentioned something to a talmid chochom about
something he had done. When he responded, saying that he was not a talmid
chochom, the Chafetz Chaim told him that he was enough of a talmid
chochom to cause a chilul Hashem.
Even though a talmid chochom is permitted to place a
person who is disrespectful in nidui,it is not praiseworthy for
a talmid chochom to do so. Rather, he should ignore the offensive
remarks of ignorant people. This was the way of the chassidim rishonim:
Not to respond to insults, and even to forgive them. Great talmidei
chochomim were concerned to conduct themselves with gentleness and would
make a point of saying that they had never put anyone who had offended them
into nidui .
A person should love talmidei chochomim and relate
to them out of a sense of yiras Shamayim, as Chazal say, the verse that
teaches us to have yiras Shamayim, es Hashem Elokecho tireh,
includes talmidei chochomim. (Pesachim 22b)
A person who shows disrespect for talmidei chochomim will
not have children who are talmidei chochomim, and a person who shows
love and respect and honors talmidei chochomim is assured that his sons
will be talmidei chochomim.