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Author:  mark
E-mail:  not available
Date:  6/8/2004 5:39:00 PM
Subject:  loshon harah
Message:  when is the lashon harah laws going to be posted,.?
Reply:  Any day.... In the meantime, here it is

Lashon Harah


Saying Lashon Harah is a serious sin. The classic case of Lashon Harah is when David knows something bad about Jacob, and if people would find out about it, Jacob would be embarrassed. If David maliciously tells people the story, he has committed a sin of "Lashon Harah." This can be something about his family or his past, or a sin that he did himself.

Rechilut is when Moshe tells Joseph, "Do you know what Shimon said about you…" Of course it is something negative about Joseph.

Motzie Shem Rah is the same as Lashon Harah, except that the information is not true.

Lashon Harah

There are 4 conditions that make something Lashon Harah, and all 4 must be present in order for it to be forbidden to say.

Malicious intent:

A person can tell other people things about someone for beneficial purposes. For example, telling the truth about someone to protect him or her from getting hurt in business, marriage or any other relationship, or a child telling their teacher or parents anything at all. When there is no real need to tell anyone this tidbit of information, and the only purpose of saying it is to gossip, this fits the category of malicious intent.

It is a secret:

Something that hardly anyone knows. If already 3 people know the information, it is not Lashon Harah because it's already out. It is no longer a secret. However, one should find more productive things to do than gossip about people. This seems to be the opinion of the Ramba"m and others. However, many disagree and say that even if it is not a secret, you cannot tell it to any person that does not yet know.
(We will be updating this shortly with a final decision on how the Law should be, however, it is usually not common to come across a situation where all the other 3 conditions apply, and only this one is in question. If it does happen, we recommend that you refrain from saying the gossip.)

It's something the person regrets:

If Shimon did some sort of sin, and he always does it, he doesn't care and he knows it is wrong, you're allowed to embarrass him and tell anyone about it, because he does not regret it. The Chofetz Chaim says that it is actually a mitzvah to embarrass him in such a scenario. (Shmirat Halashon; Hilchot Issurei Lashon Harah; Kelal #4:7)

The person must be observant of the Jewish Laws:

A person who does not follow our God's will, but rather mostly ignores the Torah, does not keep Shabbat, or even deliberately does not keep one specific commandment on a steady basis, such a person is thus an enemy of our God. We love our God; he is our good friend. He created us and continually nurtures us. This person is his enemy, so this person automatically becomes our enemy. We should tell everyone how bad he or she is. Shout it out from the rooftops. If your best friend or close relative had someone who hated them, and mistreated them, wouldn't you be loyal to your friend or relative and alienate this person? How would your friend feel if you befriend their enemy?

Some further examples:

If you know someone who seems in the eyes of the public to be a good person, but you know the truth about him and you know what he does discreetly, it is a Mitzvah to publicize it. This would even include Rabbis. Again, because he doesn't regret it (3). (Talmud Bavli Yuma 86B)

At times one can say good things about another, in order to lead to others to begin saying bad things about that person. This is also not permitted.

In the olden days, Jews lived in ghettos, had much free time, and were often in each other's faces. Today we do not have the time to speak real Lashon Harah, and most people are not that malicious. The recent obsession to work on Lashon Harah is usually the Yetzer Harah trying to distract us from working on the more relevant issues. It is not uncommon to see a person with an overall bad character obsessing about Lashon Harah, and most often flaunting their holiness.

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