The Laws #55

Avak Lashon Hara: Effusive Praise

Another manifestation of avak lashon hara, dust of lashon hara, is to speak someone’s praises very, very loudly. If I tell you someone is great and he’s wonderful and he’s great and he’s wonderful, and on and on, almost invariably someone in the audience, someone in the group is going to say, well, wait a minute, I don’t know if he’s that great, that perfect. Explains the Chafetz Chaim, singing a person’s praises too loudly, too vociferously is a form of avak lashon hara because potentially it could cause other people to speak negatively about him.

Regardless, if I’m speaking in a public forum, if I’m speaking in front of a rabim, quite a number of people, then to praise a person is a very, very dangerous thing to do. Why? Because the minute that I praise someone for his actions there are going to be people to the left, people to the right, people who are more religious, less religious, or whatever it may be. And whatever praise will often bring the opposite effect and will cause people to speak lashon hara.

Therefore, explains the Chafetz Chaim, you have to be very careful when you praise a person. If you praise a person in front of a number of people, just a small group, then certainly you can do it in a positive way, but you can’t be excessive because, again, that could lead people to speak lashon hara about the person. If it’s in an audience, if it’s in a large group, you have to be especially careful not to be marbeh praise, not to praise him too much, because again it could cause other people who have different viewpoints, different approaches, to speak negatively about that person. And therefore one has to be very guarded and very careful when he speaks in public not to overly praise a person.

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