Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

The Boy Who Cried “Wolf!” III

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

"[The brothers] broke the news to [Yaakov]: “Yosef is still alive, and he rules over all the land of Egypt.” But [Yaakov’s] heart became numb, for he could not believe them. Then when they related all the words that Yosef had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that Yosef had sent to transport him, the spirit of Yaakov was revived." (Bereshith 45:26- 7)

In the previous essays it was mentioned that words of truth are self- evident, and unless a person develops a reputation as a liar (such as the boy who cried “Wolf!”), words of truth will always be believed. This concept has major importance in the halachoth of lashon hara (defamation). Although it is generally forbidden to believe slander, if the words clearly seem to be absolutely true to the listener, it may be permitted to act on (e.g. in order to protect himself) what is being said (1). However under no circumstances may one relate the information to others, or in any way cause the subject any financial or emotional harm as a result of what was said (2).

The Gemara derives this principle from an incident involving Dovid HaMelech and Ziba (3). The Gemara suggests that Dovid HaMelech accepted slander from Ziba, and proceeds to relate an incident which seems to justify this claim. However the Gemara concludes that Dovid was permitted to believe what he heard, for he saw signs of truth in Ziba’s words. We must always ask ourselves if we really see absolutely clear indications that what was said was true, or perhaps our own disposition is motivating us to see that which is not really there. Even if the listener sees clear indications that what is being said is true, nevertheless one is obligated to judge the subject favorably whenever possible, and ignore what was said. So too, one cannot rely on the accuracy of someone else’s evaluation that what was said was true (4).


1. Smag Negative Prohibition 11.
2. Chofetz Chaim: The Laws of Loshon Hara 7, 11.
3. Shabboth 56a.
4. Chofetz Chaim: The Laws of Loshon Hara 7,10.


Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 

ARTICLES ON TAZRIA AND METZORAH:

View Complete List

The Power of Birth
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

Here Today, Gone Tuma-row
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763

The Good The Bad And The Ugly
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5760

> Guard Yourself
- 5770

Ignoramus Kohen: Fool or Am Haaretz?
- 5769

Anyone Can Find
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

Looking for a Chavrusah?

All Israel
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

Holistic Healing
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Divine Providence In Our Times
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Jogging Ancient Memories
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

All Alone
Shlomo Katz - 5768

To Not Get It
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

ArtScroll

Acquiring Torah
Shlomo Katz - 5761

The Eye of a Microscope
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

We Are One
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763

Why We Count
Shlomo Katz - 5766



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