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Saying loshon horah
in front of the subject
- I once heard that if I say loshon horah in front of the subject,
it’s not considered loshon horah. Is there any truth to that?
- Absolutely not. In some respects it is worse to say it in
front of him than behind his back, for the following reasons:
- You are instilling in yourself the bad midda of Chutzpah
- It will generally lead to greater contention.
- You can cause him significant embarrassment.
- The Gemora in Meseches Arachin (pg. 15b) seems to
contradict what you’re saying. The Gemora states the following: “Rabba
says: anything that would be said in front of the subject, is not a
violation of loshon horah… I hold like Rebbi Yossi who said: all my
days I never said anything and turned around” (i.e. to check if the person
I spoke about, heard). This Gemora clearly implies that saying it in
front of the subject is not considered loshon horah.
- This Gemora is often misunderstood. Tosofos learns that
this Gemora is referring to a statement that can be interpreted in 2
different ways, one positive and one negative, depending on the
intonation. The Gemora is saying that if a person feels comfortable
making this statement in front of the subject, we can assume that he is
saying it with positive intonations. Other Rishonim (early commentators)
have different interpretations of this Gemora. However, it seems clear
from most Rishonim that there is no leniency to say loshon horah in front
of the subject.
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: We are in the middle of analyzing the posuk
that states: “Remember what Hashem your G-d did to Miriam on the way when you
left Egypt”. We mentioned that the posuk is informing us of 4 things which we
need to direct our attention to. They are:
1. What (What did Hashem do)
2. Who (To whom did he do it)
3. Where (Where did Hashem do this)
4. When (When was it done)
Menaseh: We already discussed the “what and the
“who”, today let’s discuss the “where”.
Oded: The posuk tells us that Hashem punished her on
Menaseh: What is the significance of that?
Oded: The posuk is telling us that despite all of
Miriam’s great merits, Hashem didn’t wait to punish her until they stopped and
set up camp, but rather punished her immediately, on the road.
Menaseh: How would it have benefited Miriam if Hashem
waited until they settled in a camp?
Oded: It would have been less embarrassing for her.
People wouldn’t have necessarily realized that they were being held up on
account of Miriam.
Menaseh: So why couldn’t Hashem wait?
Oded: Once again, we see how severe the sin of
loshon horah is in the eyes of Hashem. Even for the righteous Miriam, Hashem
was not willing to delay the punishment and spare her from some of the shame.
If you have any
questions regarding these lessons, feel free to contact Rabbi Faivel Adelman by
hitting the reply button.
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1) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 3 Par.
2) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 2 Par.2
Sefer Shmiras Haloshon Sha’ar Hatevunah Chap. 12