Dcompanion – A Time to be Silent, A Time to Rebuke

Shmiras Haloshon Yomi


Laws of Loshon Hora 9:3-4

A Time to be Silent, A Time to Rebuke

       In this segment, the Chofetz Chaim cites another example of praise which should be avoided. That is when someone publicizes the fact that a person has done an outstanding act of kindness on his behalf, or has presented him with a generous donation or loan. For example, a person announces, “Mr. Rosen welcomed me into his home and treated me like a king!” or, “Mr. Rosen lent me $10,000 just when I needed it desperately!” The result may be a great disservice to Mr. Rosen because he may become swamped with requests, from honest people and from other types, who want to benefit from his generosity.

       The Chofetz Chaim also informs us that it is forbidden to live among people who habitually speak loshon hora. He adds that it is certainly forbidden to sit among such people, even if one does not intend to listen to their conversations. He goes so far as to advise Torah teachers that if one of their students is a baal loshon hora, someone who habitually speaks loshon hora, and the teacher feels that he cannot influence this student to change, then he is required to cease teaching that student. (The Chofetz Chaim bases this law on an incident in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 31b) where the student was an adult.)

       If by chance one finds himself in the company of baalei loshon hora, he is required to rebuke them for speaking loshon hora and ask them to stop. However, one should first give some thought to whom he is rebuking; if they are likely to respond by increasing their loshon hora, then rebuke should not be given.

       If it appears that rebuke might fail to stop the loshon hora but it will not cause it to increase, then one is required to rebuke.

       Rebuking is not easy. Often, it seems like an embarrassing, self-righteous thing to do. But the Chofetz Chaim says that we must do it when required, because otherwise we become accomplices in the crime. The Chofetz Chaim offers us an option in cases where rebuke seems doomed to failure—we should change the topic. In many cases that is much easier than one would think. And it accomplishes the goal of moving the person or group away from loshon hora.

       Another option is to strongly defend the person being maligned. If one takes control of the conversation and points out that the speaker cannot possibly know the whole story, that his comments are based on hearsay, then even without direct rebuke, one will make his point and raise a reasonable doubt in the listeners’ minds.

Taken from my Dcompanion Email Subscription
Rabbi Chofetz Chaim
Chofetz Chaim
Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation
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