Lesson 10c saying loshon horah in front of the subject

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Lesson #10c

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Saying loshon
horah in front of the subject


  1. 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?
  1. Absolutely not.  In some respects it is even worse to say
    it in front of him than behind his back; for the following reasons:
    1. You are instilling in yourself the bad midda of Chutzpah
    2. It will generally lead to greater contention.
    3. You can cause him significant embarrassment.



  1. 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.
  1. 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:  Through guarding our tongues we can spare
ourselves from thousands of sins each year and we can replace them with
thousands of mitzvos.

Menaseh:  That sounds like a lot!

Oded:  Even if you only refrain from 10 words of
loshon horah a day as a result of guarding your tongue, you have spared
yourself from at least over 3000 sins.

Menaseh:  How so?

Oded:  Each word of loshon horah is a sin.  There are
usually 354 days in a lunar year.  That’s already 3540 sins.  Take into account
that there are many other auxiliary sins that are violated when one speaks
loshon horah and you can multiply that amount many times over.

Menaseh:  But who’s to say that they will be replaced
with mitzvos?

Oded:  Our sages have taught us that when a person
refrains from doing a sin he is rewarded as if he performed a mitzvah. 
Additionally, the Vilna Gaon in his famous letter quotes a Medrash which states
that anyone who seals his mouth will merit the hidden light that no angel or
creature can estimate its greatness!

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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 Sec. 1 Chasimas HaSefer Chap. 1

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