Simcha's Torah Stories - Mishpatim
DON'T BELIEVE IT
"Chaim, don't ever sit next to Moishe during a test in class. He cheats by looking at other people's papers."
"Yitzy, I'm surprised at you! That's Loshon Hora!"
"But it's true."
"That's exactly what Loshon Hora is Yitzy. A true derogatory statement about someone. If it were false, it would be called motzi shaim ra. How do you know that it is true, anyway?"
"I saw Doni telling his friend that Moishe was a cheater. Moishe was standing right there and he did not say anything to defend himself. Therefore it must be true."
"Yitzy, I'm afraid that you have fallen into the trap of believing Loshon Hora. The Chofetz Chaim zt"l writes about this in his monumental book, 'Chofetz Chaim.'" He says that silence of the accused person is no proof for the truth of the statement. Perhaps he knew that he would not be believed if he spoke up. Or, perhaps he is a quiet person by nature that does not like to fight. Or he may choose to be quiet in order to receive the tremendous blessing reserved for those who are insulted and do not answer back."
"I see Chaim. What's wrong with believing Loshon Hora anyway?"
"The Chofetz Chaim zt"l writes about that also. The source of the prohibition against believing loshon hora is a verse in this week's parsha. 'Do not accept a false report (Shemos 23:1).' The Chofetz Chaim zt"l explains that the punishment for believing Loshon Hora is worse that that for speaking it. If there were no listener, there would be no speaker. It is as if the listener gives the speaker the 'stamp of approval' on his Loshon Hora."
"Honestly Chaim, how can you not believe these things? Does the Chofetz Chaim zt"l give any advice?"
"He sure does, Yitzy. Someone who has spoken Loshon Hora has violated a Torah prohibition. The Torah states, 'Do not be a talebearer' (Vayikra 19:16). If this person has sinned by speaking Loshon Hora, how can we trust him to tell the truth? We see that he is not careful about sinning by speaking Loshon Hora. Therefore we cannot assume that he is careful about the sin of not lying or exaggerating the truth."
"Wow, Chaim, you have sure opened my eyes. What should I do if someone begins speaking Loshon Hora to me?"
"If someone begins to tell you something about someone and you see that he is about to speak Loshon Hora, ask him before he begins, 'Is this subject relevant to me? Is there something that I can do to help the situation?' If the answer is no, then what he is about to say is forbidden for you to hear."
"Thank you so much Chaim. You really know the laws of Loshon Hora very well."
"That is because I study them every day. They are complicated and need constant review."
"I will try to do the same thing and do my part to stamp out Loshon Hora."
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