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The Laws #46

Lashon Hara About A Child

When it comes to speaking about a child, here the Chafetz Chaim explains there are certain times when it’s permitted and certain times when it is forbidden to speak lashon hara. Many situations about a child will not really be negative about the person; will not reflect badly on him.

For instance, to say that a child does things that are wild, does things that are within the realm of normal child behavior, one assumes that the person will grow up and it’s attributed to child-like immaturity, and that’s not considered lashon hara because it doesn’t reflect badly on the person. Many times people do things as children and they grow up, they become mature, they no longer do it, and therefore to tell stories about what a person did as a child, or even if he’s now a child, under many circumstances isn’t lashon hara.

However, there are times when it will be 100 percent lashon hara. Let’s assume the person is embarrassed about what he did as a child. Let’s assume a person is an adult and as a child he did x, y and z and now he’s embarrassed about it. Even though one may say, well, children grow up and they go through stages, but if this person is embarrassed and it’s causing him pain if I’m going to tell over these events, it’s 100 percent lashon hara because it’s within the category of words that cause him pain, words that cause him damage.

Additionally, explains the Chafetz Chaim, there will be many situations where telling over a story about a child can be directly damaging to them right then. For instance, if a child would be thrown out of a school or thrown out of a camp because of it. If there’s some negative result that could come to this child through this story, then it’s 100 percent lashon hara. Even though they’re not an adult, but they’ll be damaged via it, and they are a Jewish person. So the fact that they’re young doesn’t take them out of the category of being Jewish. They’re still in בכלל עמיתך, they’re still in the category of a Jew.

The only question is will this story reflect negatively on them? Will it damage them? If in fact it’s a type of story that isn’t a big deal and people grow out of it and if in fact the person is not embarrassed, then it wouldn’t be categorized as lashon hara. If in fact it’s a type of story that either A, the person is embarrassed by, or B, if he’s still a child it could potentially cause him harm, then it would be absolutely in the category of lashon hara and would be fully prohibited.

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