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The Laws #32

Forbidden to Accept Even For a Good Purpose

If something is applicable to me in the future I’m allowed to ask you about it and you’re allowed to tell me about it. Again, assuming I’m going into a business dealing with someone, if I ask you could you please tell me about So-and-So, provided I let you know that this is for the future benefit of he and I, or maybe even just I, then what’s happening is when you’re telling over the story you’re intending for the good, you’re not intending to malign and hurt someone’s reputation. Therefore, you’re allowed to speak and I as well am allowed to listen.

However, explains the Chafetz Chaim, under almost all circumstances I’m not allowed to be mekabel. Mekabel means I accept it to be true. So let’s assume I’m going into a business dealing with Reuven. I’m allowed to ask you, you know, I’m about to enter into a business dealing, what do you know about him, what do you know about his reputation. If in fact you know that he’s honest, you tell me. If in fact you know that he’s a thief, you’re allowed to tell me because you’re telling me for the good. But when you tell me that you know for a fact that he stole, et cetera, I’m allowed to be choshesh, I’m allowed to be careful about that, I’m allowed to suspect it to be true but I’m not allowed to be mekabel it, I’m not allowed to accept it as 100 percent factual.

If in fact I have reason to suspect that Reuven is a thief obviously I’m not going to enter into a business dealing with him. But that does not permit me to accept it to be factually true. I have to always be careful not to be mekabel. So therefore even if it is permitted to speak lashon hara and even if it’s permitted to listen to lashon hara, under almost all circumstances it’s forbidden to accept it to be true. So if in fact it’s noge’a for the future, if I need to know it, I can ask you. I can explain to you I need to know it. You’re allowed to tell me the facts. I’m allowed to listen to it and I’m allowed to keep it in my heart as a good possibility and therefore I’m allowed to be careful and potentially not engage in a business deal with him. But I’m never allowed to accept it to be 100 percent true because the issur of kabbalas lashon hara, of accepting lashon hara, is true even if it’s noge’a, even if it’s applicable for the good, even if it’s l’toeles.

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