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The Laws #10

Forbidden Even if I Include Myself

Lashon hara is forbidden even if I include myself in the story. So let’s take an example of something that you and I would consider negative. If I tell you that Reuven and I went to some place where we shouldn’t have gone, even though I’m saying that I was there too, even though I’m putting myself in the story and I’m putting myself down as well, that doesn’t stop it from being lashon hara. I have a right to speak about myself but I don’t have a right to speak about him. So even though I’ve included myself in the story it’s still lashon hara.

But even more than that. Let’s imagine it’s the kind of thing that for me isn’t a bad thing. Let’s assume I say I only learn an hour a day. Let’s assume I’m very busy, I work long hours and that’s for me about what’s right, what’s proper. So for me it’s not lashon hara. I told you I only learn an hour a day. But let’s assume this fellow is in kollel and he should be learning 10 hours a day, 12 hours a day, whatever it may be and I say, “You know, hey, he and I together what we do all day. We play ball, we joke around. We learn about an hour a day but we don’t really accomplish more than that.” So even though for me it’s not lashon hara because again based on my circumstances, in my situation, it’s not bad, but for him it is, then automatically I spoke lashon hara about him.

And this is something that carries an interesting little caveat to it. There are many people who consider various levels of religious behavior or things that they do to be embarrassing if they would violate it or they would be considered a little bit out of sorts if anyone knew about it. So if you and I do something and I tell over, even though I may not be embarrassed about it, if for you it’s derogatory, if for you it will put you down or damage your reputation, then it’s lashon hara. Even though for me it’s not, even though for me going to that type of place or that situation might not be something that’s an embarrassment or something that puts me down, if it damages your status, your reputation, if you would be embarrassed about it, then automatically it’s included in lashon hara.

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