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The Laws #38

Forced To Listen – Don't Aid In Telling More

If I’m forced into a situation where I’m listening to lashon hara, we said that provided that I meet three criteria I don’t violate the issur. Criteria number one is I’m not mekabel, I make up in my mind that I do not accept it to be true. Criteria number two is that I’m not nicha, I don’t derive benefit from the story, I don’t enjoy it. And criteria number three is that I don’t aid you in the telling of the story.

If you’re telling a story and I say, “Wow, that’s interesting, tell me more,” whether I mean to do it or not I’m aiding you in telling more lashon hara, I’m aiding you in the process. What’s happening is you’re doing an aveirah, you’re telling lashon hara. Now, I didn’t mean to be here and I didn’t want to listen, but I’m stuck here. Any sort of help that I’m adding to you drawing out more of the story aids you in telling lashon hara and becomes an independent problem that I’m over lifnei iver, I’m preparing the way for you to sin further.

So if in fact you’re speaking lashon hara and I can’t stop it, I can’t stop it. But the minute I encourage you, the minute I help you, I’m involved in a separate, discrete issur called lifnei iver, putting a stumbling block in front of a blind person, and therefore explains the Chafetz Chaim the third criteria is I have to make sure that I don’t aid you in the story.

So again, if I find myself in a situation where I’m forced to listen to lashon hara, I have to make sure to meet three criteria. Number one, I have to make up in my mind not to accept it, I’m not mekabel. Number two, I have to not be nicha, I have to not derive benefit from the story. And number three, I can’t encourage you in any way to tell more. If I meet these three criteria, since I’m in the situation against my will, I didn’t violate any issur of listening to lashon hara.

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