Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

The Boy Who Cried “Wolf!” III

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

"[The brothers] broke the news to [Yaakov]: “Yosef is still alive, and he rules over all the land of Egypt.” But [Yaakov’s] heart became numb, for he could not believe them. Then when they related all the words that Yosef had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that Yosef had sent to transport him, the spirit of Yaakov was revived." (Bereshith 45:26- 7)

In the previous essays it was mentioned that words of truth are self- evident, and unless a person develops a reputation as a liar (such as the boy who cried “Wolf!”), words of truth will always be believed. This concept has major importance in the halachoth of lashon hara (defamation). Although it is generally forbidden to believe slander, if the words clearly seem to be absolutely true to the listener, it may be permitted to act on (e.g. in order to protect himself) what is being said (1). However under no circumstances may one relate the information to others, or in any way cause the subject any financial or emotional harm as a result of what was said (2).

The Gemara derives this principle from an incident involving Dovid HaMelech and Ziba (3). The Gemara suggests that Dovid HaMelech accepted slander from Ziba, and proceeds to relate an incident which seems to justify this claim. However the Gemara concludes that Dovid was permitted to believe what he heard, for he saw signs of truth in Ziba’s words. We must always ask ourselves if we really see absolutely clear indications that what was said was true, or perhaps our own disposition is motivating us to see that which is not really there. Even if the listener sees clear indications that what is being said is true, nevertheless one is obligated to judge the subject favorably whenever possible, and ignore what was said. So too, one cannot rely on the accuracy of someone else’s evaluation that what was said was true (4).


1. Smag Negative Prohibition 11.
2. Chofetz Chaim: The Laws of Loshon Hara 7, 11.
3. Shabboth 56a.
4. Chofetz Chaim: The Laws of Loshon Hara 7,10.


Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON NETZAVIM AND VAYEILECH:

View Complete List

Family Values
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769

Casting the Mold for Next Year's Blessings
Rabbi Yosef Aryeh Schlussel - 5761

This Time, Let's Do It Right
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Moshe Rabeinu's Last Day
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

A Good Core
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5771

The Ends of Heaven
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5771

> No More Excuses!
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5758

Can the Sun Just Not Rise?
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

No Excuse Not To 'Do Teshuvah'
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5761

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Vested Interest
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5762

Judging the Day of Judgement
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

Blessing As A Precursor of Teshuva
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5769

ArtScroll

Teshuva Must Take Into Account the Root Cause of Sin
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770

Connected
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5764

The Doors to Teshuva Never Fully Close
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5766

Centrality of Torah
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information