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Condition #3 –
- You mentioned that if you see someone harming another Jew,
you may publicize it if 7 conditions are met (see appendix below). Condition
#3 is that you must first rebuke him. I have a situation where I know
that this fellow doesn’t take kindly to rebuke. As a matter of fact, he’s
outright hostile towards it. Must I still rebuke him?
- You don’t have to rebuke him under these circumstances. However,
since you didn’t rebuke him, you are only permitted to tell over what you
saw in front of 3 or more people, but not less, for the following 2
- It will appear that you are speaking behind his back so
that he shouldn’t find out about it and your intentions are only to
- People will suspect that you are lying; otherwise, why
wouldn’t you reveal the sin in his presence from the start? As a result,
there will be no benefit in telling the loshon horah, since they won’t
give your words any credence.
However, if you rebuke him (in a
situation where it’s feasible), or say it in front of 3 or more people, you’re
obviously not trying to hide anything. As a result, people will more likely assume
that you’re speaking for the right reasons (see appendix below).
- I’m concerned that if this fellow finds out that I’m
speaking about him, he will cause me harm. Must I still go public?
- If you are afraid that he will harm you, it is possible
that you would not be required to reveal it in front of 3 people. In such
a situation, one should consult with a competent halachic authority.
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
arrogance. You were going to share with me a parable to illustrate why I
shouldn’t feel haughty even if I see that I’m superior to my peers as far as my
Torah and my mitzvah observance.
Oded: Here is the parable: A wealthy man once sent
two individuals to a far away land to purchase precious stones. To one he gave
a sum of 1000 gold coins and to the other, only 100. They ended up squandering
the money on frivolous expenses. The fellow who started out with 1000 coins,
remained with only 200 and the one who started out with 100 coins, was left
with only 40. One day, the two began quarreling. The 1000 coin fellow turned
to his friend and said: “You can’t even compare yourself to me. You’re so poor
you don’t even have a quarter of what I have”. A by stander heard this and
exclaimed: “Arrogant fool, what are you bragging about. Don’t you realize
that the money is not yours? You’re but a messenger, sent out to bring in a profit
for the one who sent you. In truth, you’re poorer than your friend. Your
friend only owes the 60 gold pieces that he wasted, while you owe 800. What
are you going to tell the one who sent you? You will be terribly shamed and
much worse off than your friend”.
Menaseh: That’s a very interesting parable, but how
does that answer my question?
Oded: We are all messengers of Hashem here in this
world. We have come from a higher world to fix and polish our souls; each
person, in accordance with the level of his wisdom. Therefore, one should not
brag if he has more wisdom than his friend, since it really is not his. It was
bequeathed to him for a specific purpose. Instead, one should reflect on how
many days and years he squandered and realize that there will be an accounting
for how one spent each and every day of his life.
Menaseh: So you’re saying that I should not focus on
how much I accomplished but rather on how much I could have accomplished.
Oded: Correct. This is a tactic to use when you are
feeling haughty about your accomplishments. You might come to realize that
you’ve accomplished less than your friends, relative to your potential.
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1) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 10
2) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 10 Par. 8
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.
Intentions (condition #5)
1. To help the one who was harmed.
2. To publicize and degrade the bad deed for one of the following reasons:
So 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.