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How to do it right
(loshon horah for a purpose)
- We learned that if someone caused me damage, I may tell
others if I feel that it will help me obtain compensation. How can I be
sure that I’m telling the loshon horah in the halachicly prescribed manner?
- To do it properly, without violating the laws of loshon
horah, requires much forethought. As was previously mentioned, anytime
you speak loshon horah for a purpose, you must adhere to the 7 conditions
listed in the appendix below. However, in a situation where you were the
one who was harmed, you must be especially careful with 3 of those
- Condition #2: You must not rush to judgment,
but rather weigh carefully whether what he did is indeed halachicly
considered a sin. This can be particularly difficult when you are
the one who was harmed, since a person is naturally biased towards
- Condition #4: You must be careful not to exaggerate
the transgression. Careful attention must be paid to this condition
as well for the above reason. In addition, if there is a detail that
would mitigate the fellow’s transgression, you must be careful to include
it, so as not to give the false impression that his transgression is
worse than it actually is.
- Condition #6: If you can bring about the same benefit
some other way with out publicizing this fellow’s transgression, then you
may not go public. Included in this condition is if you can play
down what he did and still accomplish the same goal, then it’s a mitzvah
to do so.
- With so many conditions, I’m concerned that I will say the
wrong thing. Can you offer me advice on how to pull this off without
violating the laws of loshon horah?
- I can offer you 2 pieces of advice that will increase your
chances of pulling this off successfully.
- Do not say anything while you’re still angry, but rather
wait until you’ve calmed down.
- Before you utter a word, plan very carefully what you’re
going to say and how you are going to say it, based on the 7 conditions
If you take these words to heart you
have greatly increased your chances of success.
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 hopelessness. You were
explaining how the yetzer horah is not in essence bad, but rather, we make it
bad through our actions.
Oded: I was sharing with you the words of the
Medrash. The Medrash continues and says: there are many bitter plants that we
boil in order to make them sweet. If even bitter things that Hashem created,
we sweeten for our needs; our yetzer horah, which is under our control, as the
posuk in Beraishis tells us, we certainly should sweeten and not turn it into
Menaseh: How does this all address our issue? My
original question was: how is it possible to always refrain from loshon horah,
when the Gemora tells us that everyone will speak loshon horah?
Oded: Regarding speech as well, if a person pays
attention to his ways and decides to guard his tongue from speaking evil, he
will certainly succeed.
Menaseh: Why is that?
Oded: As I mentioned before, the yetzer horah can be
under our control. Our sages teach us that one who comes to purify himself,
will be assisted.
Menaseh: How does that manifest itself?
Oded: If one wants to be righteous, Hashem provides
him with an angel who will guide him to righteousness.
Menaseh: That’s fascinating! But I still don’t
understand the Gemora which states that everyone will violate the sin of loshon
Oded: Tomorrow you will have your answer.
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. 15
Sefer Shmiras Haloshon Sha’ar Hatevunah Chap. 15
The 7 Conditions
- 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.