(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis

Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2000 23:08:03 -0500 (EST)
From: Russell Hendel <  rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu>
Subject: Re: Lashon Hara

QUESTION: WHat is LESHON HARA--the Biblical sin of SLANDER.

The comments presented in Torah Forum Volume 5 Number 29 are all excellent.
Allow me to add 5 subtle points to what has already been said with examples.

nevertheless cause harm--the classic example is Doeg's statement that a
small town of 85 priests gave bread to David (Saul's son in law). Although
this is praiseworthy, since Saul was paranoic Doeg should not have made the
statement (which caused the death of the entire town 1Sam Chap 21-22). Doeg
lossed his share in the next world because of this. RECHILUTH is Biblically

considered 'slander dust' and is rabinically prohibited (because it MIGHT
provoke a negative response).

- ---Saying something derogratory is Biblically prohibited (as already
pointed out this is independent of whether it is true or false). The
Chafetz Chaiim explicitly points out that this includes if I eg say that a
person with 10 children doesn't learn twice a day because he has no
time---even though this is not PERCEIVED as derogatory, nevertheless
because it is a technical violation of a commandment, therefore the talk is

is about a person or his possesions. Thus if I know a person is charitable
& I say his car is not that good then I have slandered him (since eg no one
will ask him to participate in the weekly car pool to bring children to
yeshiva). In fact the classical Biblical example of slander is Nu Chap
13,14: the Spies slandered The Land of Israel as 'eating its inhabitants'.

certain standards: a) Righteous peoples actions are presumed to be judged
as 'proper' even on bad acts; b) wicked people are presumed to be judged as
'improper' even on good acts; ordinary people's acts are judged as is. In
fact another classical Biblical story of slander---Nu 12--involved Miriam
judging her righteous brother Moses as behaving improperly for divorcing
his wife (she should have judged him favorably).

Russell Hendel; Phd ASA; Math Towson;
Moderator Rashi Is Simple, http://www.shamash.org/rashi/