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Chapter 30: 1-3
Gossip, Slander & Revenge

1. [Leviticus 19:16] states: "Do not go around as a gossiper among your people."

Who is a gossiper? One who collects information and then goes form person to person, saying: "This is what so and so said; this is what I heard about so and so." Even if the statements are true and are not necessarily disparaging, they constitute a violation of a negative commandment.

This is a grave sin and can cause the death of many Jews. Consequently, the Torah mentions it in conjunction with the commandment: "Do not stand still over your colleague's blood."

See what happened to Doeg, the Edomite, who told King Saul (see I Samuel 22:10) that Achimelech gave David bread and a sword. The matter was true and was not at all deprecating to Achimelech, for in doing so he did not perform any wrong. Furthermore, had King Saul himself asked Achimelech, he would not have denied it , for he did not intend to sin against King Saul. Nevertheless, Doeg's gossiping caused the death of many priests.

2. There is a much more serious sin than the above, and it is also included in this prohibition: slander - the relating of deprecation facts about a colleague, even if they are true.

Slander does not refer to someone who invents lies; that is referred to as defamation of character. Rather, a slanderer is someone who sits and relates: "This is what so and so has done; his parents were such and such; this is what I have heard about him," telling uncomplimentary things. Concerning this, [Psalms 12:4] states: "May G-d cut off all beguiling lips, the tongues which speak proud things..."

A person who listens to slander is worse than the one who recites it (Pesachim 118a). The judgement against our ancestors in the desert was sealed only because of slander (Arachin 15a).

3. To what extent will one's remarks be considered slander? For example, a person asked a colleague: "Where can I find fire?" and the latter replied "Where is fire? In so and so's house there is an abundance of meat and fish, and they are always cooking there."

   Gossip, Slander & Revenge
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Halacha-Yomi, Copyright (c) 1999 Project Genesis, Inc.

 

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