Not only is it forbidden to speak lashon hara, there is a separate lo sa’aseh, a separate prohibition to accept lashon hara to be true. So for instance, let’s say you come over and tell me that Reuven did such and such. When you say words that damage Reuven, words that hurt him, so you violated the prohibition of”לא תלך רכיל בעמך” , against speaking lashon hara. But I now have a choice to make. I can accept that what you’re saying is true or I could say to myself what you’re saying is not true and I could not accept it whatsoever.
Explains the Chafetz Chaim, if I make the choice to accept what you say as true, I also violated a distinct, separate lo sa’aseh, “לא תשא שמע שוא”. The Torah forbids me from accepting lashon hara. Explains the Chafetz Chaim, the Torah is concerned with Reuven’s reputation. When you went and told me that he did something bad, you attempted to ruin his reputation. But the power is now in my hands to accept it or not. If I say to myself I don’t accept what you’re saying is true, then you didn’t succeed and Reuven’s reputation remained where it was. If I do accept and I say hm, I guess that Reuven isn’t who I thought he was, I am the one who now allowed Reuven’s reputation to be ruined. And explains the Chafetz Chaim the one who is mekabel, the one who accepts it as true, is considered even worse than the one who said it. When you told me over the lashon hara, it’s up in the air; it might succeed in ruining Reuven’s reputation, it might not. When I accept it to be true, I am the one who actually finishes the job and I am considered worse than you because I accepted it to be true.
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