Lesson 3c Loshon horah in the face of financial loss or embarassment
Dedicated l’illuy nishmas
Avraham Alby Ben Yamna
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Passing on Loshon
horah that was heard in the presence of 3 people
- In yesterday’s lesson you mentioned that if you hear
loshon horah in the presence of 3 or more people, the Rambam holds that
you may then casually pass on the information to others; however, the
Chofetz Chaim does not recommend relying on this leniency. Can you please
- Sure! There are 2 reasons:
- There are many Rishonim (early commentators) that
disagree with the Rambam’s interpretation of the Gemora upon which this
leniency is predicated.
- There are numerous conditions that must be met before
relying on this leniency. It is very unlikely that all the necessary
conditions will be fulfilled, therefore, it is best to avoid relying on
- Would you mind listing the conditions?
- The conditions are as follows:
Your intention must not be to spread the word
There is an opinion that you may only pass on the
loshon horah if it comes up casually in the course of conversation.
Only the 3 original listeners are permitted to share
the loshon horah, and not those who heard it second hand.
If any of the 3 listeners are G-d fearing individuals
who are careful not to speak loshon horah, this leniency is rendered invalid.
It is permitted only in the city which the original
loshon horah was spoken in front of the 3 listeners.
If the original teller told the listeners not to
share what he told them, the leniency is invalid.
It is forbidden for the 3 listeners to embellish
the story or to indicate in any way that they believe it to be true.
If it’s negative information about a person’s past,
but now this person has changed for the better, it is forbidden to mention his
past, even if it was told in front of 3 people.
If you know that the listener is the type of person
who will accept what you tell him as fact and perhaps even embellish it, it is
forbidden to share the loshon horah with him, even if you heard it in front of
2 people telling 2 people isn’t the same as one
person telling 3 and therefore does not qualify for this leniency.
As you can see, fulfilling all
these conditions is no easy feat. Add to it the fact that many disagree with
this interpretation of the Gemora and I think you will agree that it is prudent
to avoid relying on this leniency.
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: If someone takes what doesn’t belong to him,
he will lose what was decreed on Rosh Hashana to come to him over the course of
Menaseh: Are you saying that besides getting
punished for the sin of stealing, you also lose what was decreed for you?
Oded: Correct. Our sages teach us that one who
steals from his friend, it’s as if he has taken his soul, i.e. killed him.
Additionally, you are bothering Hashem to return what you stole to its rightful
owner. Aside from the punishment that is due to him for the sin of stealing,
he also loses what was destined for him over the course of the year.
Menaseh: Why is that?
Oded: As we mentioned previously, Hashem runs his
world based on the principle of measure for measure. Just as you took what was
destined for your friend, Hashem will take away what was destined for you.
Menaseh: So the bottom line of all this is that it
doesn’t pay to take what’s not rightfully yours. If it’s coming to you, you‘ll
get it without having to commit a sin. If you try and take it in a way that’s
forbidden, you will lose what was destined for you over the course of the year.
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1) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 2 Par.
2) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 2 Par. 3-10
Sefer Shmiras Haloshon Sha’ar Hatevunah Chap. 11