Sefer Chofetz Chaim chapter 9 part of halacha 1

Today we began the laws of avak lashon hara, which literally means the dust of lashon. They are statements that might not sound so negative but it references or lead to discussing lashon hara.

Some examples are:

1. “Wow, I am amazed how far he has come!” This implies he is doing great now but not so great in the past and could lead to inquiries of what he used to do.

 2. “Shhhhh, I’d rather not talk about him.” If someone asks you about someone and you answer like this then it’s obvious something is wrong. It’s better say I don’t know, all is fine, or just change the subject. This admittingly is obviously not easy and it takes a lot of stealth and creativity to avoid this type of lashon hara.

3. “I don’t want to tell you what happened or what will be with so and so.” Obviously, something is up and by say that you are prodding him on to wonder what really happened. Better not to say anything or at least try to say a pareve statement like all is fine or nothing happened. Of course, this is assuming there is really no constructive reason to say anything.

4. One should talk the praise of someone in front of others who don’t like the subject being talked about because they will start bashing the one you praised. Besides the prohibition of avak lashon hara you also transgress lifnei iver, placing a stumbling block in front of the blind.

A person has to know or figure out before you praise someone if the person you are talking to has any qualms against the subject. For example, if you know a person dislikes a rabbi or judge, for example if he has ruled against him in the past, you can’t go over to him and ask how your new court case went, especially if he just walked out of court because if it did not go in his favor he’ll blow up and you were the cause of him ranting and speaking lashon hara.

Bottom line, if you want to talk about someone with someone else, even if what you tell is not lashon hara but you can figure out that he is not on good terms with the subject and the conversation will lead to lashon hara, you are forbidden to start the conversation.