Sefer Chofetz Chaim chapter 7 halacha 6,7

We are continuing with the chapter that talks about compelling reasons to believe lashon hara and whether you are allowed to believe it.

Halacha 6: Even if a person goes over to you and starts talking derogatorily about himself and throws others into the story, for example if a Jew says me and my friends went to McDonald’s to eat, or he says we all got mad at someone and started insulting him, or we are all not so smart, in all these cases and the like you are only allowed to believe the story about the person who is talking but not about his friends. This is based on gemara in Kesubos 23b and though there is the famous story of the Chofetz Chaim traveling by train to some town and the guy who wound up next to him, not knowing what the Chofetz Chaim looked like got into a conversation about where they were going and the guy said he was going to see the Chofetz Chaim in some town and the Chofetz Chaim remarked what so great about the Chofetz Chaim and he belittled himself a bit and the guy got all upset and slapped him. When they got off the train and there was a crowd to meet the Chofetz Chaim the guy was quite embarrassed. People say that based on this story maybe you should not even talk badly about yourself but halachically the Chofetz Chaim says you could believe someone if he admits he made a mistake or is imperfect or the like, just sometimes take it with a grain of salt because people are humble.

In halacha 7 we say that even though some people depending on the person and situation are very honest and trustworthy and can be believed like two witnesses however when it comes to lashon hara that doesn’t make a difference because even if what they are saying is true that is still lashon hara and you must judge favorably the person being talked about. Besides that the Chofetz Chaim says that now a days no one has the level of believability as two witnesses so you should always be concerned of what you hear but if need be you can take proper precautions and investigate the matter when dealing with issues or signs which are not clearly known to be forbidden to all Jews or lacking in fine character and the like.