SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 6:9-10
We have been learning about kaballas loshon hora, the prohibition against believing loshon hora which is related in one’s presence. The Chofetz Chaim states that this prohibition applies not only to a report of current improper behavior, but to any information which we are forbidden to repeat. For example, if we were to hear that the father of a respected community member had a controversial past, we would not be permitted to believe it. We are also forbidden to believe a negative assessment of someone’s intelligence or physical abilities.
The Chofetz Chaim returns to the subject of listening to negative information l’toeles, for a constructive purpose. If someone is considering taking a partner into his business and then receives derogatory information concerning him, he is permitted to suspect that the information is true and to act on that suspicion. However, he is not permitted to believe it (without further investigation) or to take aggressive action against the person in question. Similarly, if one hears that a storekeeper cheats people, he can protect himself, but he may not attempt to harm the person’s reputation based on this information.
(Whether he can warn others is a complex issue which needs additional study. For further details see Sefer Chofetz Chaim, hilchos rechilus, klal tes.)
Furthermore, he must act toward the person with the same friendliness and kindness that he showed before hearing the report.
To take action upon hearing information but not to believe it may seem a very difficult challenge. However, as the Chofetz Chaim himself is reported to have said, “If it were impossible to keep the laws of loshon hora, Hashem would never have written them in His Torah.” We are, in fact, quite capable of acting based on mere suspicion or remote possibility. We engage in such action every time we enter a car and buckle the seat belt. The chances of a crash or even a short stop are remote, yet we safeguard ourselves.
In a similar way, when hearing loshon hora which may affect us if proven true, we must train ourselves to believe that in all probability the information is false. Nevertheless, we “buckle up for safety,” and take all necessary precautions.
Become a daily email sponsor and help us provide thousands with easy access to the Torah’s inspiration. As a merit for a departed loved one, or for a recovery from illness, your sponsorship will go a long way toward bringing people the most effective tool for dealing with life’s troubles. Your dedication will reach over 8,000 recipients per day. Just email back the date and dedication you would like printed, along with your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE CHOFETZ CHAIM HERITAGE FOUNDATION
Since 1989, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation has successfully launched innovative methods of promoting the Torah’s wisdom on human relations and personal development. The foundation utilizes a vast array of effective communication tools including books, tapes, video seminars, telephone classes and a newsletter, designed to heighten one’s awareness of such essential values as judging others favorably, speaking with restraint and integrity, and acting with sensitivity and respect. The Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation’s programs reassert the Torah’s timeless recipe for building a world of compassion and harmony. The following opportunities for learning and personal growth are available through their offices.
A daily lesson from the Chofetz Chaim: A Daily Companion/Mesorah Publications.
- To subscribe or unsubscribe: e-mail email@example.com with subject subscribe/unsubscribe.
- To order tapes, books, learning programs and free catalog call: 866-593-8399.
- Please treat printed version with the respect due Torah materials.