Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Lashon Harah

By: Rabbi Daniel Travis

"Do you know Nachor's grandson Lavan?" asked Yaakov. "We know him," they replied. "HaShalom lo?" retorted Yaakov. "Shalom!" they responded, "and here is his daughter Rachel coming with the sheep." (Bereshith 29:5-6)

Although this appears to be merely an innocent conversation, much was happening behind the scenes in this dialogue. When Yaakov asked regarding Lavan, "HaShalom lo?" he wasn't merely inquiring about Lavan's welfare; he was trying to determine whether Lavan was a man of peace (shalom), or whether he was prone to arguments and fights. The other shepherds did not wish to lie by saying that Lavan was a man of peace, yet neither did they want to tell the truth, for it was not a pleasant truth they had to tell. Therefore they responded with a single word, "Shalom," implying that a general state of peace reigned in the world. Immediately thereafter they changed the subject, pointing out that Rachel was coming.1

When people meet someone who lives in the same town as their friends or relatives, it is common to inquire about the current spiritual situation of those they know there. The answer one may give to such inquiries depends on the intention of the person asking. If he hopes, through the information he receives, to be able to help or correct the person about whom he is inquiring, then one is obligated to respond truthfully, even if the response involves derogatory information. If he is asking only out of curiosity, it is forbidden to say anything derogatory about the subject of the question. One must try to find some way to avoid answering the question without casting the subject of the question in a negative light.2

If we are aware that someone has stolen from or otherwise injured another person, we are obligated to display a passion for the truth, revealing the facts to those who are in a position to rectify the situation.3 However, in a case in which one person has refused to do a favor for another, but no one has actually been damaged, it is forbidden to tell others what happened, for that would be considered lashon hara.4


1. Moshav Zekeinim on Bereshith 29:5-6.

2. Chofetz Chaim 4:11, footnote.

3. Sha'arei Teshuvah 3:221.

4. Chofetz Chaim 5:1.


Priceless Integrity, Copyright © 2003 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org.

Subscribe to Priceless Integrity and receive the class via e-mail.


 

ARTICLES ON BESHALACH AND TU BESHVAT:

View Complete List

Mon or Man?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5766

What He Really Wants
Shlomo Katz - 5775

A Wise Person Takes Bones
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Divine Multitasking
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5766

Booty Is Risky
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760

The Essence of Song
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

> Mazal Tov!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5761

The Great Song
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

The Spiritual Effect of Tasting the Manna
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5772

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Like Manna from Heaven
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5767

Out of Bounds
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

Building a Spiritual Pipeline
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

ArtScroll

Walls of Water
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

Insight Into An Age Old Dilemma
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5759

Can A Person Sleep For Seventy Years?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

Pride and Prejudice
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5756



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information