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More on believing
- A classmate was relating to me past misdeeds of another
classmate of ours. Today, this person is a fine Torah observant Jew. Is
it forbidden for me to believe what I heard about his past?
- If believing your classmate will cause you to have a lesser
opinion about the one whom he spoke about, it’s forbidden for you to
believe him. A rule of thumb is: whatever is forbidden for the teller to
say, is forbidden for the listener to believe. Speaking about someone’s
past sins is certainly forbidden if the person has since changed his
ways. (Note: There are many situations where the teller is allowed to
tell but the listener is still not allowed to believe.)
- When I hear loshon horah, what am I supposed to think?
- It depends. If the words of loshon horah that you heard
have no bearing on you or anyone else whom you know, then you may not
believe them at all. However, if it is relevant to you or someone else
whom you know, i.e. you were told that a certain person whom you have
business dealings with is dishonest, you may harbor suspicions and keep up
your guard. However, it must be kept at the level of a suspicion and no
higher. In other words, it shouldn’t even be considered a doubt but
rather merely a suspicion. This is true only as far as protecting
yourself from being harmed by this fellow. However, regarding all other
matters, you must treat him no different than any other Jew. Therefore,
if he lost an object and you found it, you are obligated to return it to
him. Or, if he needs charity you are obligated to help him, etc.
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: There is another great way of fixing past
transgressions of loshon horah.
Menaseh: What is that?
Oded: Learning Torah. The Gemora in Meseches
Arachin says: “Rav Chama the son of Rebbi Chanina said: How may talebearers fix
their sins? If he’s a Talmid Chochom he should toil in Torah.
Menaseh: Is there a scriptural source for that?
Oded: Sure! The posuk in Mishlei states: “A healer
of the tongue is the tree of life”. Tongue refers to the sin of loshon horah
and tree of life refers to Torah.
Menaseh: Is there a specific reason why the posuk
refers to Torah as the tree of life in this context?
Oded: Definitely! The posuk in Mishlei states that
life and death are in the hands of the tongue. When someone speaks loshon
horah, he acquires eternal death. Therefore, in order to redeem ones self, it
is necessary to eat from the tree of life which is Torah.
Menaseh: It’s as simple as that?
Oded: Of course a person must be careful from here
on in to avoid speaking loshon horah. It is similar to one who accidentally
drank poison and is now taking medicine to heal him from its effects. The
medicine will only be effective if he avoids further ingesting the poison.
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. 6 Par.
2) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 6 Par. 10
Sefer Shmiras Haloshon Sha’ar Hatorah Chap. 1