Sefer Chofetz Chaim chapter 6, halacha 6 footnote 16 with note on the footnote

We are back in action, slowly plugging away in Sefer Chofetz Chaim. Today we learned that the only excuse to stay still and not walk away from a conversation of lashon hara is if when you got there you did not think they would be speaking lashon hara and they were, and also if there is no way of escape. 

However if: 

A. When you came you can already over hear them speaking lashon hara, 

B. You are just too lazy to get up or 

C. You know that the nature of this group of people is to speak lashon hara and make fun of others then you can’t even sit down with them and should certainly overcome any laziness even if you disagree with what you are hearing and get up and leave. If you don’t you are included with them as wicked people who involve themselves in lashon hara. 

The footnote to note 16 in the Be’er Mayim Chaim points out that there are two problems in scenario A. and C. One is a rabbinic prohibition to stay away from hearing lashon hara, even if you are disgusted in what you hear and don’t accept it. It’s one thing to be passive and just not get up when you find yourself in a conversation of lashon hara and can’t get up, rebuke, or put your fingers in your ears but actively sitting down when you hear lashon hara being spoken where you are supposed to be going to or if you know these people always slander others, they love doing so then the rabbis forbid you to actively but yourself into that situation from the onset. You also transgress the positive mitzvah of clinging to Hashem by wantonly deciding to cling to this group of lashon hara speakers when actively sitting down with them. As for the second scenario of not getting up out of laziness when you could then you only transgress the rabbinic prohibition, not the positive mitzvah of “bo sidbak” clinging to Hashem since when you first came you did not think it would lead to lashon hara.  

But the Chofetz Chaim points out through a couple of gemaras that ignoring the rabbis and their enactments is a grave sin.

We gleaned a few insights from our discussion today:
 1. We see that we have to keep our ears open when coming to sit down in a group to be sure they aren’t speaking lashon hara. That might mean, for example at a wedding upon sitting down at your table if you hear lashon hara you would have to walk away, maybe act as if you have to get something or speak to someone before sitting down, then come back when you think they have stopped speaking lashon hara.
2. Another insight we realized that though putting your finger in your ears might be embarrassing but now a days we find people walking around with headphones, barring whether that is derech eretz/proper manners or not, but if you do it and you begin to hear lashon hara then you can turn on the music or Torah lecture, etc. so you cannot hear it and that is the same way without it being embarrassing as putting your fingers in your ears, perhaps even more effective.