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horah about a heretic
- If someone tells me that a certain fellow is a heretic,
may I then go and speak loshon horah about that fellow?
- As with all loshon horah, you may not believe it but you
may suspect until further verified. Therefore, you may distance yourself
from this fellow and you may even warn others to keep their distance until
the matter is clarified.
- What about if I don’t have first hand knowledge that this
fellow is a heretic but he is established in the city as a heretic?
- If it is common knowledge throughout the city that this
person is a heretic, even if you don’t have first hand knowledge, you may
consider him a heretic and speak loshon horah about him. However, if it’s
only a rumor, that would not be adequate grounds to consider him a heretic;
hence, you may not speak loshon horah about him. You may however suspect
and warn others, as mentioned above. (The distinction between a rumor and
common knowledge is an important one. One must be careful not to
rationalize and consider something common knowledge when it is really only
Rabbi Adelman – Thank you again for
the wonderful work you do. In terms of yesterday’s lesson, would it be
worthwhile to differentiate between a true apikores as opposed to a tinoke
shenishba, which most non-religious today would be considered?
You are correct; there is a differentiation. A Jew who was
raised irreligious is not necessarily to blame for his ignorance; therefore,
there is no mitzvah to degrade him. An Apikores is one who knows the truths of
Judaism but has rejected them; it is therefore a mitzvah to stand up for the
honor of Hashem and degrade him. As for the issue of who is classified a
tinoke shenishba and who an Apikores; one should inquire from a competent
there a reason NOT to ridicule a heretic, at least to the extreme,
though? So the mida of achzarius and degrading others doesn’t become part
Our sages teach us that one who is merciful towards the
cruel will end up being cruel to the merciful. There is a time and a place
even for what are normally perceived as negative middos. A person must have
the right balance. When a person throws himself off balance and uses the wrong
midda in the wrong place it has an effect on his whole value system. An
apikores is someone who has rebelled against Hashem. The same way one would
hate someone who rises up against his father, one must hate those who rise
against Hashem. As Dovid Hamelech declares in Tehilim: “Behold those who make
you hated Hashem I will hate and with those who rise up against you I will
quarrel A complete hatred I hated them, they were enemies to me”. This
is not to say that one shouldn’t first try and influence the apikores, in a
positive way, to purge himself from his false beliefs. However, after all such
attempts have been exhausted; one must have the proper response to such an
individual as spelled out above and in yesterday’s lesson.
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: Our sages teach us in Pirkei Avos that we
shouldn’t desire the tables of rulers because our tables are greater than
theirs and our crowns are bigger than theirs.
Menaseh: What does that mean?
Oded: It’s referring to some one who learns Torah.
Menaseh: And what is the reference to tables and
Oded: Your table in the world to come will be fuller
with reward than their table in this world, and your honor in the world to come
will be greater than their honor in this world, as symbolized by the crown.
Menaseh: So it’s a long term investment.
Oded: Correct. Our sages tell us that all those who
blacken their faces in this world with words of Torah; Hashem will make their
countenance shine in the world to come. All those who make themselves hungry
over words of Torah in this world, will be satiated in the world to come.
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. 8 Par. 6
2 Sefer Chofetz Chaim Sec. 1 Chap. 8 Par. 6
Sefer Shmiras Haloshon Sha’ar HaTorah Chap. 2