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who is maligning a friend
- Sarah, an acquaintance of mine, has been speaking loshon
horah about my friend Dina. May I inform others that Sarah is speaking
loshon horah about her?
- Loshon horah can certainly be considered a form of
damage. As such, providing that all the conditions are met (see appendix below),
you may tell others for one of the following 2 reasons:
1. To help the one who was harmed.
2. To publicize and degrade the bad deed for one of the following reasons:
So that others will avoid such deeds.
Perhaps, the one who harmed his friend will see
that people are degrading his actions and as a result, repent.
If you are publicizing that Sarah
is speaking loshon horah for reason #2, you may only do so if Dina already
knows that Sarah is speaking loshon horah about her. However, if publicizing it
will help Dina, you may do so even if Dina is not yet aware that Sarah is
- How would it help Dina if I publicize that Sarah is
- If you can discern by the nature of the slander and/or slanderer,
i.e. that she will go to others as well and share her gossip, then your publicizing
it can help. Unfortunately, people tend to believe loshon horah. Once
they have accepted it as truth, it’s very difficult to convince them,
otherwise. By you preempting Sarah and spreading the word that Sarah is
slandering Dina for no good reason, it‘s very likely that when Sarah comes
around with her slander, they will dismiss it and perhaps even rebuke her
for engaging in such vile speech.
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: We were discussing the negative trait of
Oded: One who is arrogant is an abomination!
Menaseh: Those are strong words.
Oded: They are not my own.
Menaseh: But rather who’s?
Oded: Those are the words of Shlomo Hamelech, the
wisest of all men.
Menaseh: Can you give me an exact quote?
Oded: Sure! In Mishlei, Shlomo Hamelech writes:
“All haughty hearts are an abomination to Hashem”.
Menaseh: So can you give me some more ideas of how I
rid myself of feelings of arrogance?
Oded: All one has to do is reflect on their poorness
in Torah and mitzvos. Our sages teach us in Meseches Nedarim: If one is
lacking in that, what does he have?
Menaseh: I understand what you’re saying. My
problem is that I look at other people and see that I’m much better than they
are as far as Torah and mitzvah observance and then I begin to feel haughty.
Oded: What you must reflect on is that even if it’s
true that you’ve surpassed your peers, you still haven’t even reached a
fraction of the inherent potential that Hashem has bestowed upon you.
Tomorrow, I will share with you a parable that clearly illustrates this point.
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. 10
2) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 10 Par. 6
Sefer Shmiras Haloshon Sha’ar Hatevunah Chap. 14
- You either saw it yourself or heard about it and
subsequently verified its veracity.
- You must not rush to judgment, but rather weigh carefully
whether what he did is indeed halachicly considered a sin.
- Before you go public, you must first attempt to gently
- You must be careful not to exaggerate the transgression.
- You intentions must be for the right reasons and not out
of hatred for the individual or for personal gain.
- If you can bring about the same benefit some other way,
with out publicizing this fellow’s transgression, then you may not go
- Publicizing his transgression mustn’t cause him more
damage than would be due to him in Beis Din.