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 (Rashi interprets the verse to mean that G-d has withdrawn His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.