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Causing harm based
on loshon horah that you’ve heard
- Someone told me that one of my workers hasn’t been showing
up to work on time for the past month, but on his time sheet he writes
otherwise. Am I permitted to decrease his pay based on what I’ve heard?
- Absolutely not! As we learned, you are only permitted to
suspect but not to believe. The general guideline is that you may take
measures to protect yourself, but you may not cause him harm based on what
you’ve heard. In this case, by decreasing his pay you would be causing
him harm; therefore, it is forbidden to do so. However, you may harbor
suspicion and investigate the matter further.
- There is a person who’s been going around in our Shul
collecting money for the past 2 years. I recently heard that this person
is not really needy but rather a phony who’s been deceiving people for his
own profit. May I stop giving him charity based on what I’ve heard?
- Since until now this person was considered a legitimate
charity, the fact that someone spoke loshon horah about him, is not
sufficient evidence to remove him from that status. You may suspect that
something might be amiss and investigate further, but you are not
permitted to cause him harm, based on loshon horah that you’ve heard.
Withholding charity from him would be classified as causing him harm.
Therefore, until the matter is further clarified, you should continue
giving him as you have until now.
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: Torah learning also serves as a deterrent for
Menaseh: How is that?
Oded: There is a posuk in Iyov which states: “A
person is born to toil”. Our sages learn that this refers to toil of the
Menaseh: How is that implied in the posuk?
Oded: The mouth is the only limb in the body that doesn’t
require effort to activate.
Menaseh: And other limbs?
Oded: Other limbs, a person has to exert himself to
move. The mouth runs without exertion.
Menaseh: So how is that implied in the posuk?
Oded: The posuk state: “A person is born to toil”.
From the moment a person is given the power of speech, it begins working
without laziness. Hence, from when it’s born, it’s toiling.
Menaseh: Why did Hashem create the mouth that way,
different from all the other limbs of the body?
Oded: For the purpose of Torah learning.
Menaseh: So how does Torah learning prevent loshon
Oded: Since a person’s mouth runs almost
automatically, he will invariably come to speak loshon horah. However, if a
person busies his mouth with Torah learning he will be spared.
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1) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 6 Par.
2) Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 6 Par. 11
Sefer Shmiras Haloshon Sha’ar Hatorah Chap. 1