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Passing on Loshon
horah that was heard in the presence of 3 people
- In yesterday’s lesson you mentioned that if you hear
loshon horah in the presence of 3 or more people, the Rambam holds that
you may then casually pass the information on to others; however, the
Chofetz Chaim does not recommend relying on this leniency. Can you please
- Sure! There are 2 reasons:
- There are many Rishonim (early commentators) who disagree
with the Rambam’s interpretation of the Gemora upon which this leniency
- There are numerous conditions that must be met before
relying on this leniency. It is very unlikely that all the necessary
conditions will be fulfilled; therefore, it is best to avoid relying on
- Would you mind listing the conditions?
- The conditions are as follows:
Your intention must not be to spread the word
There is an opinion that you may only pass on the
loshon horah if it comes up casually in the course of conversation.
Only the 3 original listeners are permitted to share
the loshon horah, and not those who heard it second hand.
If any of the 3 listeners are G-d fearing individuals
who are careful not to speak loshon horah, this leniency is rendered invalid.
It is permitted only in the city which the original
loshon horah was spoken in front of the 3 listeners.
If the original teller told the listeners not to
share what he told them, the leniency is invalid.
It is forbidden for the 3 listeners to embellish
the story or to indicate in any way that they believe it to be true.
If it’s negative information about a person’s past,
but now this person has changed for the better, it is forbidden to mention his
past, even if it was told in front of 3 people.
If you know that the listener is the type of person
who will accept what you tell him as fact and perhaps even embellish it, it is
forbidden to share the loshon horah with him, even if you heard it in front of
2 people telling 2 people isn’t the same as one
person telling 3 and therefore does not qualify for this leniency.
As you can see, fulfilling all
these conditions is no easy feat. Add to it the fact that many disagree with
this interpretation of the Gemora and I think you will agree that it is prudent
to avoid relying on this leniency.
This section is
formatted as a conversation between Oded and Menaseh. Oded is encouraging his
friend Menaseh to be more careful in guarding his tongue from evil speech. The
thoughts in this section are primarily based on the sefer, Shmiras Haloshon.
Oded: In the second paragraph of Shema we say
something that appears to be quite odd.
Menaseh: What is that?
Oded: We say “Watch yourselves lest your hearts be
seduced and you will turn and serve other deities”.
Menaseh: What’s odd about that?
Oded: Well, if you look at the beginning of the
paragraph it is talking to people who love Hashem and serve them with all their
heart and soul. It seems a bit strange to tell people of such caliber to watch
out not to serve idols.
Oded: Usually, when you are urging, say your child,
to go on the correct path you do so according to where the child is holding.
If the child is currently doing well you will encourage him to strengthen
himself and continue along that path. If the child is heading in the wrong
direction you would encourage him not to veer from the path of Hashem
entirely. To do the opposite would be inappropriate. Therefore, it seems
strange in the second paragraph of Shema which began addressing people who love
Hashem with all their heart and soul, to now warn them not to go serve idols.
It would make more sense to encourage them to be strong and continue on the
path that they are on.
Menaseh: Do you have an approach that will help make
sense out of it?
Oded: I do; I will share it with you tomorrow.
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1) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 2 Par.
2) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 2 Par. 3-10
Sefer Shmiras Haloshon Sha’ar HaTorah Chap. 10