Lesson 48c Listening to someone vent – What to do when somone starts speaking loshon horah
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have in mind that you are studying this material as a merit for a specific
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Listening to one
who is venting
- A friend wants to vent about what someone did to her. May
I listen to her?
- Under certain circumstances it may even a mitzvah to hear
her out. If by listening to her, you can calm her nerves so that she
won’t go talk to others about it, who might believe her, then it is a
mitzvah to listen. By listening, you’re preventing others from believing
words of loshon horah. However, it is important to remember that you too may
not believe her words as fact; you may only suspect that they might true.
What to do when
someone starts speaking loshon horah
- What am I to do when at work, during a meeting, someone
starts speaking loshon horah?
- There are a number of steps that you can take. I will
list them in order of preference.
- You should rebuke the one who is speaking loshon horah.
If you know that rebuking him/her will only make them speak more loshon
horah, then you should not rebuke them. However, if you feel that
rebuking them won’t help but it also won’t harm, then you should rebuke
him/her to show that you don’t approve of what’s being said and that you will
not be a party to it.
- If stopping the loshon horah through rebuke is not an
option, you must either leave the meeting or insert your fingers into
your ears so as not to hear the words of loshon horah.
- If it is impossible for you to leave the meeting and you
know that you are too embarrassed to stick your fingers in your ears,
then you must take the following 3 steps to ensure that you are not in
violation of the biblical prohibition of listening to or believing loshon
a. Firmly commit yourself not to believe the words of loshon horah that
are being spoken.
b. You mustn’t feel any desire to listen to the loshon horah.
c. Don’t show in anyway that you approve of what is being said. If you
are able to show disdain for the deleterious words that are being spoken, that
would be even better.
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.
Menaseh: You have elaborated on the fact that the
mitzvos of Hashem will only sanctify our soul if our thoughts are clean from
false beliefs and impure thoughts. I find it quite difficult to avoid sinful
thoughts. Does that mean that the mitzvos that I perform and the Torah that I learn
will not bring holiness into my soul? How can I ever get to the point that it
Oded: Do not worry; there is no reason to despair.
Our sages teach us that one who comes to purify himself will receive heavenly
assistance. If with all your heart you want to remove the impure thoughts from
your heart, you will certainly receive heavenly assistance.
Menaseh: For the time being though, since my mitzvos
will not have the desired effect is there any point in me doing them?
Oded: Heaven forbid to neglect even one mitzvah! As
our sages have taught us: “A person should toil in Torah and mitzvos even if he
isn’t doing it for its sake; for from doing it not for its sake, he will come
to do it for its sake”. Doing it, even without the purist of thoughts, will
eventually enable you to taking control over your thoughts and perform the
mitzvos with the right thoughts. That in turn will enable you to be sanctified
by the mitzvah performance.
Menaseh: So bottom line, if I want to purify my
thoughts I can?
Oded: If you put in the effort and strengthen
yourself to remove the impure thoughts from your heart, you will merit special
heavenly assistance and you will succeed.
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1) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 6 Par.
2) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 6 Par. 5
Sefer Shmiras Haloshon Section 2 Chap. 2