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Summary of lessons
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When do I need to judge my fellow Jew favorably? (lesson 14b)
1. A G-d fearing person: Under all circumstances, even if the less
favorable option seems more likely.
2. An Average person: If it’s 50%-50% you must judge him
favorably. If it seems more likely that he sinned, you are not required to
judge him favorably but you should consider it a doubt. It’s an extra measure
of righteousness to judge him favorably even in this circumstance.
3. A Rasha (malicious sinner): Even if it seems more likely that
he didn’t sin, you should judge him unfavorably.
Note: If you’ve judged
someone unfavorably (unjustifiably) and based on that went and revealed to
others the sin that you think he committed (even if it’s the type of sin that
if committed, you would be permitted to reveal), you have violated the
prohibition of loshon horah as well as the commandment to judge your fellow Jew
- When may I reveal someone’s sin (between man and G-d) and
when must I rebuke him? (sins between man and his friend will be
discussed in future lessons)
A Baal Teshuva’s past sins: Almost never. (Lesson 15b)
Sins of ancestors or relatives of an upstanding
Jew: Almost never.
If you saw someone sin once: (Lesson 16b)
A G-d fearing Talmid chacham: You may not
reveal it to anyone. You should rebuke him while he’s performing the
transgression. If you were unable to, it’s a matter of doubt whether you should
rebuke him the following day.
An Average person: You may not reveal it to
anyone. You should rebuke him in a soft and gentle manner.
One who will not except rebuke: You should
not rebuke him. You may reveal his sin to a limited few. (Lesson 17b)
a. Bais din: If you have another witness.
b. Relatives: If they will believe you and can effectively rebuke
c. His Rebbi: Under limited circumstances. (See Lesson
Flagrant transgressor: i.e. a person who shows
no concern for the mitzvos of Hashem or has repeatedly transgressed even one
A sin that is known to all: You may reveal
his sins publicly under the conditions delineated in lesson 18b.
A sin that is not known to all: You may not
publicize. However, if he was warned by a competent authority or was shown in
a sefer that it’s forbidden and he still persists in his ways, you may
publicize his actions.
A sin that is commonly rationalized: Same
Bad midda: You may not publicize; since
people generally don’t understand its true severity. (Lesson 20b;
21b for an exception)
One who violates a ruling of Bais Din: Bais
Din may publicly reveal his violation under the conditions delineated in lesson 20b.
Important Note: Before
publicizing anyone’s sins, a competent halachic authority should be consulted.
There are many factors that need to be carefully considered before taking such
Inquiring about a shidduch: One may inquire
about a shidduch under the following conditions: (Lesson 22b)
1. You must inform the one of whom you’re inquiring, the reason for your
2. You must not believe any negative information, but merely suspect.
3. You may not inquire from one who has a dislike for the subject.
Inquiring about old friends: It should be
avoided, since it generally leads to loshon horah for no practical benefit. (Lesson 25b)
Teshuva For Loshon horah: (Lesson 23b)
1. Between man and Hashem: If the loshon horah caused no harm to
another Jew, then you are only obligated to do teshuva to Hashem. To do so,
one must feel remorse, verbally admit to the sin, and resolve
not to commit he sin in the future.
2. Between man and his fellow man: If the loshon horah caused harm
to a fellow Jew, in addition to the 3 steps of teshuva mentioned above, you
must seek the forgiveness of the one whom you’ve harmed.
3. The damage has not yet occurred: The Chofetz Chaim has a doubt
as to whether one must seek forgiveness currently, if the damage has not yet
4. The subject is not aware that you caused him/her harm: The
Chofetz Chaim holds that you must inform the subject. There are other opinions
on this matter; therefore, a competent halachic authority should be consulted. (Lesson 24b
5. I don’t remember whom I’ve spoken about: This is often the
result of habitual loshon horah. It is nearly impossible to do teshuva in such
a situation; therefore, a person must speedily break the habit. (Lesson 24b)
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 mentioned 7 possible causes that can lead a
person to freely speak loshon horah. They were:
Menaseh: What should one do to rid himself of
Oded: A person must constantly reflect on how truly
despicable arrogance is.
Menaseh: Can you elaborate?
Oded: How can one be arrogant after reflecting on
who he is?
Menaseh: What do you mean?
Oded: A person starts off as but a mere smelly drop;
and in the end, he will return to the dust and his flesh will be consumed by
Menaseh: That does sound kind of low.
Oded: Our sages teach us that if one truly reflects
on this, he will not be arrogant.
If you have any
questions regarding these lessons, feel free to contact Rabbi Faivel Adelman by
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1) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 3 Par.
7 – Chap. 4 Par. 12
Sefer Shmiras Haloshon Sha’ar Hatevunah Chap. 14