The Laws #34

Listening To Someone Vent

The Chafetz Chaim explains that there’s another situation where it is permitted for me to listen to lashon hara. Let’s assume that you are very, very angry at Reuven and you’re really, really fired up. And I recognize your nature. Your nature is a kind of person who needs to vent. Explains the Chafetz Chaim, in that case I would be allowed to listen if my listening serves a positive result. The positive result being you’ll vent, you’ll scream, you’ll rant, you’ll rave and then you’ll calm down. In that case I’m not listening to hear damaging information about Reuven, I’m listening to calm you down so that you don’t go tell 10 other people, you don’t continue to spread the lashon hara. In that case, I’m allowed to listen. So if in fact I know that you will vent and your venting will just end it, it will calm you down, there I’m listening l’toeles, I’m listening for a good purpose, I’m not intending to harm Reuven’s reputation, and therefore I’m allowed to listen.

Again cautions the Chafetz Chaim, in this case I have to be very, very careful not to accept it to be true. I’m allowed to listen because I’m calming you down and it serves a good purpose. I’m not allowed to accept it to be true. And this becomes a major nisayon, a major, major test. Because often we tend to believe what people say. Especially if you’re a credible person and you’re telling me the details of what he did and what he said, it really kind of pulls my heart to believe it. I have to be very careful and on guard not to accept it to be factually true. I can be choshed for it potentially, if it’s noge’a l’haba, if it applies for the future, and certainly I’d be allowed to listen if it calms you down, but I’m not allowed to accept it to be true. I’m allowed to listen but not completely accept it.

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