The Laws #56

When Praise is Lashon Hara

A form of unintentional and inadvertent lashon hara is to praise a person in a very, very vocal, very noticeable way. For instance, let’s assume that Reuven is a very generous person and I need a loan. And he generously loaned me a large sum of money. If I let that be known publicly, it might be speaking lashon hara.

Why? Because let’s assume for a minute that I now let it be known that Reuven is wealthy or that Reuven is generous, and people who are not scrupulous now come to borrow money from him. And in fact he loans them the money and is damaged in the process. What I’ve done is I’ve spoken lashon hara. Why? Because the definition of lashon hara is words that hurt, words that damage.

Now, even though I intended to do Reuven a favor, to repay for the kindness that he did for me, if I put him into a position where now people will prey upon him, where people will take advantage of him, that’s considered מברך רעהו בקול גדול, praising your friend in a very loud way, and it’s actually lashon hara because it’s damaging to him.

So, if in fact someone has done me a favor, obviously I can be polite and let people know he’s a wonderful person and et cetera. But in fact I have to be very guarded and very careful not to be excessive in the praise and not to mention the fact that he’s an incredible ba’al hachnosas orchim, he has an open house, or he loans tremendous amount of money or et cetera. Any expression that might lead other people to take advantage of him or might lead to his detriment in that way would be fully in the category of lashon hara. Therefore one has to be very careful when he praises another person.

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