Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

LASHON HARA - PART 4

Last week we mentioned that as well as the prohibition to speak lashon hara (negative speech) it is also forbidden to actively listen to it. There are two main reasons for this:

Firstly, by listening to the speaker you are enabling him to continue his gossip and consequently causing him to sin. By doing so, one transgresses a separate commandment in the Torah known as, ‘do not put a stumbling block in front of a blind person’. One application of this is that we cannot cause someone else to sin. The reason for this commandment is that Judaism does not see each person as a separate individual who only needs to be concerned about his own spiritual well-being. We are enjoined to care about the spiritual well-being of our fellow man and therefore we cannot cause him to perform an action that is spiritually damaging to him.

One may think that listening to lashon hara would only involve a transgression of not putting a stumbling block if you are the only listener but if there are others there then the speaker would be able to say his criticisms anyway. However, it is still possible that the presence of another person may strengthen the speaker’s conviction to speak and therefore listening could still involve putting a ‘stumbling block’.

The second problem with listening to lashon hara is that it is very likely that the listener will believe what is being said and will allow it to cloud his opinion of the person under discussion. Accordingly, it is highly advisable to try to not put oneself in the position of hearing negative words. However, there are situations where it is unavoidable to hear lashon hara - what should we do when this happens? The great scholar, Rabbi Yisroel Kagan, known as the Chofetz Chaim, says that we must strive not to believe the negative words that have been spoken.

This is no easy task, but one way of making it easier is to realize that although the speaker may not be intentionally lying in what he is saying, but nevertheless he is only saying things from his subjective point of view. We all know that there are two sides to every story - when we hear both people’s versions we understand how two people can see one event in drastically different ways. Thus, for example, when John describes in detail how Dave committed a deplorable act we cannot really know if the way he saw the story is an accurate account of what actually happened. Having this awareness can help us develop an ability to remain unaffected by the negative speech that we hear.


Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

The Perfect Covenant
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

Rabbi Frand on Parshas Lech Lecha
- 5769

Long Distance Call
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5761

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Paradoxical Lot
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

There's No Place Like Away From Home...
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5764

The Ordeal of Departure
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Emunah: Keeping the Faith
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5768

A "Sneak Preview" of History
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5761

I Too Was Struck
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

> Genuine Kindness
Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5765

Outsiders
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5756

Count Us If You Can
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

ArtScroll

Jealousy or Love?
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

It's All About Redemption Part III
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5766

Uniquely Human
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5762

Jews On the Move
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767



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