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- Is it prohibited to believe loshon horah?
- It is biblically prohibited to believe loshon horah. The
Gemora in Meseches Pesachim says that one who believes loshon horah is fit
to be thrown to the dogs. The Rambam writes that the punishment for
believing loshon horah is greater than the punishment for telling loshon
- Does that mean that I’m supposed to assume the one who
told the loshon horah lied?
- It depends. The essence of the prohibition is not to look
down upon the one whom the loshon horah was spoken about.
Therefore, if even according to the
words of the teller, there is room to judge the person whom he spoke about
favorably, then you may believe the teller, providing that you judge the
subject favorably. (An example of this would be if
the teller says “I saw Dovid walk into Shimon’s backyard and saunter off with his
lawnmower.” If you are able to judge Dovid favorably and say that perhaps he
got permission from Shimon to borrow his lawnmower, then you may believe the
However, if according to the words
of the teller there is no way of judging the one whom he spoke about favorably,
then you must assume that the teller lied or exaggerated or perhaps left out an
important detail that would change the nature of the story. (For example, if the teller says “I saw Dovid breaking
into Shimon’s garage with a black ski mask pulled over his face and when Shimon
opened his window to see what was going on, Dovid quickly darted out of view.
Since in this case, if you’d believe the teller, you would be hard pressed to
judge Dovid favorably, you would have to assume that the teller either lied or distorted
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 cause #7,
rationalization. You said that in a situation of doubt, which is a common
cause of rationalization, it’s better to err on the side of caution and not
Oded: Correct; as there will be no claim against you
in the heavenly court if you refrain from speaking because you have a doubt.
However, if you speak because you think it might be a mitzvah and in reality
it’s not, you will be held accountable. This might answer a question I had
about a certain posuk.
Menaseh: Which posuk?
Oded: It’s a posuk in Mishlei that states: “One who
guards his mouth and tongue is protecting his soul from suffering”.
Menaseh: And what was your question?
Oded: Why does the posuk speak in the negative and
say that he protects his soul from suffering when he actually accomplishes much
more; he merits a share in the world to come!
Menaseh: So how does what you said before answer
Oded: Perhaps this posuk is telling us that even
when you have a notion that it might be a mitzvah to speak, it’s best to
refrain when in doubt. By doing so, you will protect your soul from the
possibility of great suffering.
Menaseh: That’s a nice explanation!
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1) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 6 Par.
2) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 6 Be’er Mayim
Sefer Shmiras Haloshon Sha’ar Hatevunah Chap. 16