1) Please share your thoughts on the relationship between Lashon HaRa and idolatry in the comments section below.
2) I want to relate a story about the Chofetz Chayim (see previous post). It is suspiciously similar to a story about Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk that ends quite differently.
He was travelling on a train to another town, inconspicuous in simple garb. On the train he encountered a Jew and they be began to talk. After some time, the Chofetz Chayim asked him where he was going and he answered that he had heard that Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan, the Chofetz Chayim, would be teaching in such and such a town, and he was going to hear this luminary among this generation, this incredibly pious and brilliant scholar.
"I know him," the Chofetz Chayim responds. "He's not so great." Outraged, the Jew slapped him. "How dare you speak in this way about such a Torah scholar!" They parted ways.
Later the man goes to see the Chofetz Chayim teach and, of course, recognizes him. Horrified, he approaches the Chofetz Chayim and apologizes profusely.
"Please, don't worry," says the Chofetz Chayim. "You taught me a great lesson. I knew, of course, that it is a great sin to speak lashon ha-ra about another person. But I did not know that it was also a great sin to speak lashon ha-ra against yourself."