The Laws #43

The Difficulty In Not Accepting

One of the most difficult challenges in areas of shmiras halashon, guarding one’s tongue, is not to be mekabel, not to accept that which I haven’t seen with my own eyes. As I mentioned, it is a full prohibition in the Torah to be mekabel, to accept lashon hara. And the difficulty is that oftentimes we hear things from people who we trust. Someone tells me a story, someone tells me that something happens, and this person is someone who I know and I trust that what he’s saying is true. Additionally it’s difficult because generally we tend to believe stories we hear, especially if they have an edge to them, an angle of a person doing something wrong.

And explains the Chafetz Chaim that it’s absolutely forbidden for me to accept, to be mekabel, lashon hara. The only time I can accept is if it’s two witnesses in a beis din. However, even if I trust the person and even if he normally wouldn’t lie to me, I’m not allowed to accept,  I’m not allowed to be mekabel, that which he’s saying as absolutely true. As we mentioned, you’re allowed to be choshed, you’re allowed to suspect, but you’re not allowed to be mekabel.

And this is a major nisayon because, in fact, it is very difficult not to accept what we hear as true. However, explains the Chafetz Chaim, if this person is speaking lashon hara and I recognize it as such, then I have to realize that if I suspect that he’s speaking lashon hara, which he is, so then there are other lo sa’asehs in the Torah, including lying. And there’s not much distinction between telling lashon hara and lying. Obviously, this person isn’t really that careful about not speaking lashon hara, so then why do I have to assume that they’re that careful about not lying or exaggerating or adding details? The point being, it’s forbidden for me to accept.

If in fact I’m in a situation where I heard a story and I accepted it, the teshuvah for it is for me to undo it from my heart, for me to think through the action and say, maybe I missed a detail, maybe I didn’t know, and for me to undo that acceptance and bring it back to something as might be true, might not be true. But I certainly don’t accept is as true. And that’s the only way that a person can really do teshuvah if they were mekabel, if they accepted something as true.

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