The Laws #41

Forbidden To Speak, Forbidden To Accept

As we’ve discussed, not only is it forbidden to speak lashon hara, it’s forbidden to accept lashon hara to be true as well. And explains the Chafetz Chaim that this rule of not accepting something to be true parallels almost exactly the rules of speaking lashon hara. Meaning, in almost every situation where you’re forbidden to speak lashon hara, you’re forbidden to accept it as well.

So for instance, you’re forbidden to speak lashon hara about a person if it damages their reputation, if it explains that a person is not a competent, intelligent person. In any of those situations where you’re forbidden to say those words, I’m also forbidden to accept them to be true. Additionally, I’m forbidden to speak lashon hara whether it be spoken words, I’m forbidden to communicate lashon hara through hinting, through writing, through gestures. In any method that it’s forbidden to speak lashon hara it’s forbidden to accept it to be true as well. And therefore if I read a letter that’s derogatory or if I read an email or a blog or something that’s a derogatory piece of information, the person writing it violates the issur of speaking lashon hara, the person reading it and accepting it violates listening and violates accepting lashon hara as well.

However, there are certain times when I’m allowed to listen to lashon hara, and under those circumstances I’m allowed to not accept it to be true but to be choshesh, to suspect. And in our next session we’re going to discuss in detail what it means to suspect and what am I allowed to do about that.

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