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Chapter 30: 4-6
Gossip, Slander & Revenge

4. There are certain matters which are considered "the shades of slander" the "shades of slander"; for example, someone says: "Do not talk about so and so; I do not want to say what happened."

Similarly, it is also considered the "shades of slander" when someone speaks favorably about a colleague in the presence of his enemies, for this will surely prompt them to speak disparagingly about him. In this regard King Solomon said (Proverbs 27:14): "One who greets his colleague early in the morning, in a loud voice curses him," for this positive act will bring him negative repercussions.

Similarly, this category includes a person who relates slander in frivolity and jest, as if he were not speaking with hatred. This was also mentioned by Solomon in his wisdom (Proverbs 26:18,19): "As a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death and says: "I am only joking."

It also includes someone who slanders a colleague slyly, pretending to be innocently telling a story without knowing that it is slanderous. When he is reproved, he excuses himself by saying: "I did not know that the story was slanderous or that so and so was involved.

5. Slander includes those who make deprecatory remarks in the presence of a colleague or behind his back, those who relate matters which, when passed from one person to another, will cause harm to a colleague's person or his property. Such remarks are considered as slander even if they will merely annoy him or frighten him.

If a matter was mentioned in the presence of three people, one may assume that it has already become publicized. Thus, if one of the three later relates the matter a second time, it would but be considered slander, provided his intention was not to spread the matter further and publicize it.

What precautions can a person take so that he will not be prone to slander? If he is a Torah Sage, he should occupy himself with Torah study. If he is a common person, he should practice humility.

6. [Sotah 42a] relates: Rabbi Yirmiyah bar Abba stated: There are four groups of people that will never behold the Divine Presence: the jesters, the flatterers, the liars, and the slanderers. The jesters, as [Hoshea7:5] states: "He has removed His hand from the jesters." (Rashi interprets the verse to mean that G-d has withdrawn His hand from being together with the jesters.) The flatters, as [Job 13:16] states: "A flatterer shall not come before Him." The liars, as [Psalms 101:7] states: "One who tells lies shall not remain in My sight." The slanderers, as [Psalms 5:5] states: "For You are not a G-d who has pleasure in wickedness, evil shall not dwell with You",i.e. You, G-d, are righteous; evil shall not be present in Your dwelling. (Rashi explains that "evil shall not dwell with You" refers to the slanderers, as that Psalm continues (10): "There is no propriety in their mouths.")

[Sanhdrin 63b] relates: All jesting is prohibited, except jests made at the expense of idol worship which is permitted.

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Halacha-Yomi, Copyright (c) 1999 Project Genesis, Inc.

 

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