Lashon Hara

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It’s forbidden to speak about anything negative about a fellow Jew even if it’s true. This prohibition is called Lashon Hara.

General guidelines

  1. It’s forbidden to speak about anything negative about a fellow Jew even if it’s true. This prohibition is called Lashon Hara. If the negative information includes some falsehood it’s Motzei Shem Rah a much greater transgression. [1]
  2. It’s equally forbidden whether one volunteered or if one was asked for information where one will come to say Lashon Hara or Avak Lashon Hara. One should not listen to one’s father or Rabbi to say Lashon Hara or Avak Lashon Hara. (See circumstances where it is permitted in section Toelet). [2]
  3. Even if taking upon oneself not to speak Lashon Hara will cause one to loose one’s job (such as where the employer is very immoral and irreligious and considers one who is careful about this prohibition to be a fool and he’ll fire that person) nonetheless it is forbidden to speak Lashon Hara. [3]
  4. Even if it will cause one embarrassment not to say Lashon Hara one may not say Lashon Hara. [4]
  5. It is forbidden to say, write, signal, or in any way communicate negative information about a Jew. [5]
  6. Even if while saying Lashon Hara one also degrades oneself it’s still forbidden. [6]

BeApei Telata (Before 3 people)

  1. It’s forbidden to say Lashon Hara in front of one person and all the more so in front of many people. [7]
  2. It is only permitted to say negative information about a Jew in front of three people when the information can be understood in two ways, since it’s said in front of 3 people and word will spread to the one being spoken about, the speaker will be careful not to say bad about him. [8] The same is true of words that potentially cause damage or pain. [9]
  3. Some say that if someone said Lashon Hara before 3 people even though he certainly violated Lashon Hara, the ones who heard it are allowed to tell others as long as one doesn’t intend to spread the word and publicize it. Some say it’s forbidden except if it came up tangentially when speaking. [10].
  4. Only those who heard it directly can repeat it, however, the one who heard from someone who heard it originally may not repeat it. [11]
  5. If one of the 3 original people who heard it were yireh Hashem who are careful on lashon Hara then it’s forbidden to repeat it. [12]
  6. Something said before three people may only be repeated within the city and not in another city. [13]
  7. If the speaker said not to repeat the information to others then it is Lashon Hara to repeat it. [14]
  8. This leniency only applies to 1 speaking to 3 and not 2 speaking to 2. [15]
  9. One may not add even one word or to support it such as saying that story which was heard was accurate. [16]
  10. If it’s well known that a certain person did wrong in his past but now acts properly or it’s well known that his parents did wrong but he acts properly it’s forbidden to say these negative information. [17]
  11. Even if one fits the other requirements of BeApei Telata, if the one knows that the one listening will accept this information as true and add to it, it’s forbidden to tell him. [18]
  12. One who is careful about their soul would distance themselves from this leniency altogether. [19]
  13. It’s absolutely forbidden to say that the Rabbi’s Drashas (Divrei Torah) aren’t substitive or that there’s no point in listening because this is certain Lashon Hara even if it’s true. If he is someone who is concerned with his soul he would give advice to the Rabbi privately and fulfill Ahavat LeRecha Kamocha. [20]
  14. If a person revealed information related to his business before 3 people one of those who heard may repeat it to others as long as he didn’t express that he doesn’t want this information repeated and one follows the other conditions of Apei Telata. [21]

In front of one's fellow

  1. It is forbidden to say Lashon Hara even if one would say that information in front of the one who is being spoken about. It’s a grave prohibition to say Lashon Hara about a person actually in front of the one being spoken about. [22]
  2. That which Chazal permit when the speaker would have even said it in front of his fellow (the one being spoken about) that’s only to say Avak Lashon Hara which is a statement that can be interpreted in two ways. Thus, if he wouldn’t be embarrassed to say it before his fellow it’s clear that his intent isn’t to say something negative and it’s permitted. However, if he would be embarrassed to say it before his fellow it’s clear that his intent is to say something negative and it’s forbidden. [23]
  3. It’s forbidden to say Lashon Hara even if one isn’t doing it out of hatred and intent to speak negatively about one’s fellow and even if it’s just a joke it’s a biblical prohibition. [24]
  4. It is forbidden to say Lashon Hara even if one doesn’t mention the name of one’s fellow but it’s clear from the discussion who that fellow is. [25]
  5. Lashon Hara includes speech which isn’t negative about one’s fellow but it can cause one’s fellow embarrassment and the speaker intended this.. [26]
  6. It’s forbidden even if one says it casually pretending not to know that one is saying Lashon Hara or that these are the deeds of that fellow. [27]
  7. One may not say any negative about one’s fellow even if it will not cause any bad to my fellow. [28]
  8. If one sees one’s fellow do a sin if he is god fearing one must judge his favorably, if he is in between and the situation is unclear whether he was doing something wrong or not one must judge him favorably and even if the situation leans to the side that he was doing seomthing wrong it’s very proper to leave it as a doubt and not judge him negatively. If the situation is leaning to the side that he didn’t do something wrong it’s forbidden to judge him negatively. [29]

References

  1. Rambam Deot 7:2, Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 1:1)
  2. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 1:5)
  3. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 1:6) based on Rama YD 157:1
  4. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 1:7)
  5. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 1:8)
  6. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 1:9)
  7. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 2:1)
  8. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 2:2)
  9. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 2:13)
  10. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 2:3)
  11. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 2:4)
  12. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 2:5)
  13. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 2:6)
  14. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 2:7)
  15. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 2:8)
  16. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 2:9)
  17. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 2:9)
  18. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 2:10)
  19. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 2:10)
  20. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 2:12)
  21. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 2:13)
  22. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 3:1)
  23. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 3:2)
  24. Rambam Deot 7:4, Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 3:3)
  25. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 3:4)
  26. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 3:4)
  27. Rambam Deot 7:4, Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 3:5)
  28. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 3:6)
  29. Chafetz Chaim (Lashon Hara 3:7)