Lesson 15c Revealing the sins of others-revealing someone’s past sins
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Please verbalize or
have in mind that you are studying this material as a merit for a specific
single and/or Jewish singles throughout the world.
Revealing the sins
- If I see someone sin, am I permitted to share this
information with others?
- That depends on many factors. I will list some of the
factors and then we will address them; one at a time.
- The type of sin.
- How long ago the sin was committed.
- The frequency.
- The type of person that committed the sin.
- The reason for revealing the information.
- To whom the information is being revealed.
- The number of people who witnessed him sin.
As you can see, there are numerous
factors that must be sorted out in order to resolve this question. I will do
my best to clarify the law in each situation.
someone’s past sins
- I have a friend who used to not be meticulous in his
mitzvah observance. He has since changed his ways and is currently a
fully observant Jew. Am I allowed to reveal his past sins to others?
- Absolutely not. Since he is no longer a sinner and
revealing his past can cause him harm and/or embarrassment, it is
forbidden to do so.
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.
Menaseh: Yesterday, you dubbed loshon horah a Mais
Mitzvah, i.e. an abandoned mitzvah. Do you really think that loshon horah is
abandoned more than any other mitzvah?
Oded: Without a doubt! Just take notice, if you
ever rebuke someone for speaking loshon horah they will come up with100
hetairim (loopholes) as to why what they’re saying is not really loshon horah.
Menaseh: It’s not so abnormal to rationalize a sin that
Oded: But see what happens next! After you prove to
him that what he said is indeed loshon horah, he will then say: “even if it’s
loshon horah, about such a person it’s permissible to speak. I saw him commit
this or that sin, he’s a flatterer, about such a person it’s a mitzvah to
publicize his deeds etc.” In short, the more you try to show him that he is violating
the prohibition of loshon horah the more he will speak loshon horah; to the
extent that he will eventually declare that this person is not even considered
a fellow Jew! Is there any sin in the world that is similar?
Menaseh: Are you saying that by other sins people
don’t try to justify what they’re doing?
Oded: Take for example someone who was negligent
with the sin of eating non-Kosher meat. If you were to rebuke him can you
imagine for a moment that in front of your face he would stick another piece of
treif meat into his mouth? (Unless he completely left the fold) Yet, by the
sin of loshon horah, which is an extremely severe sin with very harsh
punishments, it is quite common for fully observant Jews to heap on more loshon
horah in front of the rebuker. The more you rebuke the more they heap.
Menaseh: Well, how do you explain this phenomenon?
Oded: As a result of the frequency with which we
commit this sin we develop this insensitive attitude towards the sin. However,
the truth is that even people who aren’t so accustomed to violating this sin
also are not panged as much by this sin as by others. It is therefore clearly
a Mais Mitzvah. Whatever we can do to show respect for the mitzvah of guarding
our tongue would be a tremendous merit for us.
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1) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 4
2) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 4 Par. 1
Sefer Shmiras Haloshon Section 1 Chasimas HaSefer Chap. 1