SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM
Halacha allows for certain rumors to be reckoned with, but never are they to be accepted as fact.
It is important to note the halachik qualifications which distinguish a rumor that may have some credence from that which is mere character assassination. If the subject is known to have enemies in the community who are very possibly the source of the rumors, it may not be granted any legitimacy. Even if everyone in the community has a favorable opinion of the subject, the rumor would have to circulate throughout the community for one and a half days without losing strength before it could be taken seriously.
When a rumor does seem to have validity, halacha allows for it to cast doubt on the status of the person(s) involved; e.g. where the report concerns the subject’s status as a kohen or similar issues of lineage.
The unfortunate reality is that rarely is a rumor anything more than wide-scale loshon hora. Even when halacha grants a rumor some degree of validity, it cannot be accepted as fact.
SEFER SHMIRAS HALOSHON
The Quality of Acceptance
In striving to develop the quality of shmiras haloshon, one must place great emphasis on reacting toward any situation with savlanus, that is, to be tolerant of whatever negativity is thrown one’s way. In the words of Avos D’R’ Nosson (41:11): “Condition yourself to tolerate distress, and be forgiving of insult.’’ Through such character development, the quality of shmiras haloshon is easily attainable. Conversely, one who lacks savlanus will forever be torn by the need to relate the wrongs which others have done against him. At times, he will prevail in this struggle; other times, he will fail.
A savlan is capable of bearing insult in silence. He tells himself that whatever occurs is an expression of Divine will, and that in reality his own sins are the true causes of his being shamed. When one accepts disgrace in this way, totally and sincerely, Hashem surely elevates his stature in this world and in the next.