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The Laws #30

Placing a Stumbling Block is Exponential

One of the issues that multiply the problem with lashon hara exponentially is the lifnei iver factor. It is forbidden for me to cause you to sin. It’s forbidden for me to prepare the way, it’s forbidden for me to cause you to be involved in a potential prohibition.

So let’s assume for a minute that you come over and tell me a story of lashon hara. Immediately, obviously, you’re over lashon hara and you violated a negative prohibition. But in addition to that you’ve put me in a very difficult situation – I might well accept what you’re saying is true. If you tell me that last night Reuven did x, y, and z, I might accept that to be true and I therefore would have accepted lashon hara and I myself have violated an issur. So when you tell me that Reuven did x, y, and z you spoke lashon hara, in addition to which you were over lifnei iver. You put a stumbling block in front of me because you caused me potentially to accept it.

In addition to that, once you tell me about Reuven that he did such and such I may add to the fray, whether I just say, “I hear, about a guy like that taka it sounds right,” or I may add to it by telling you my own little tidbit about what he did, so I potentially have now added another dibur, another speech of lashon hara. If I do that I put a stumbling block in front of you because you might accept it to be true. On and on, the multiplicity of aveiros that are involved just if we deal with the speaking and accepting are many, many fold because automatically there’s speaking, there’s accepting, there’s lifnei iver, causing another Jew to sin, and all of them add up to be a tremendous, tremendous ball that continues rolling in creating many, many prohibitions.

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