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The Laws #82

In a Public Forum

If Reuven tells me that Shimon said something about me, did something to me, that is rechilus. Under certain limited conditions it’s permitted. But unless there’s a specific reason, it’s forbidden.  Additionally, not only is this person not allowed to tell me the rechilus, I’m not allowed to be mekabel it; I’m not allowed to accept it to be true.

What if Reuven told me that Shimon did something, said something about me, and he’s saying this now in public, in front of many people. One might say, he would only say it in public, he would only make such a public proclamation, if it’s true, and therefore it’s more likely for me to be able to accept it. The Chafetz Chaim says there’s no rationale to that. And even if Reuven now tells me that Shimon did something or said something about me and Reuven is now saying that in a public forum, in front of many people, it doesn’t make it permitted for me to accept it.

In addition to this, let’s assume that the person he’s speaking about is here now. Let’s imagine Reuven walks in and says, you know, Shimon yesterday said about you such and such.  And this Shimon is standing right here. Now obviously I have a right to say, if Shimon is here and he’s not answering back, he’s not denying it, obviously he’s agreeing. And obviously now I have a right to accept it as true. Explains the Chafetz Chaim, that it’s not true at all. It could well be that this Shimon is standing here not retorting because he realizes that anyway no one is going to believe him, no one is going to accept him. It could be that his silence is no indication at all to the truth. Therefore, the fact that he’s here doesn’t help. I’m forbidden to accept these words as true even if Shimon is here because his silence is not necessarily an indication of its veracity, of its truth. And therefore there still remains a full issur, a full prohibition of accepting the rechilus in this situation.

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