Today we discussed a very important concept. A judge, government official, board member, and anyone of that sort cannot revealed how he or she voted especially if it takes off blame on him or herself and dumps the blame on the others it is rechilus or lashon hara. Certainly to say I disagree with the ruling or the vote, which will ensue negativity and hatred is forbidden but even to say I originally held this way but I was forced to vote another way, or even if one says, this is what I originally thought but now I see I was wrong and I voted otherwise is rechilus according to the Yad HaKetana.
Bottom line transparency isn’t always proper and can very likely be lashon hara/rechilus. The Chofetz Chaim had a very logical reasoning behind why the minority can’t reveal what they felt as well as why individual’s statements from a meeting shouldn’t be shared with anyone outside the meeting. Many times a statement of an individual might not be fully correct, or might even be a knee jerk reaction which was not meant to be said and it is only a part of a picture that is being painted in a meeting which can only be revealed and publicized in it’s finished product. The Chofetz Chaim says that the truth is usually on the side of the majority because when putting all heads together and analyzing everything, taking things into account which an individual might have overlooked causes the truth to come out and therefore the majority of a vote is most likely the closest thing to the truth.
That being said, is only true assuming you are dealing with a group which is trying to come up with the truth and has the means to do so. Therefore, for example, if the majority of the world disagrees with the notion that there is G-D in the world or if the Torah was divinely given to the Jews and should be observed that does not mean they are correct. A misguided, ignorant majority is not considered a majority.
What’s important here to know is that the minority opinion in a situation where there is a valid majority does not have the right to publicize their opinion after the vote is cast because they will just spread salt on an open wound which otherwise would have healed after sometime after that whomever lost.
8 we saw that it makes no difference how the speaker said don’t
repeat it to anyone. A secret is a secret, even when said in a group of at
least 3. However in the footnote, the Chofetz Chaim said, that it might be
possible to repeat it to others if the speaker only said to not repeat it to
the one being talked about, but he wasn’t sure. He also said that if two people
are speaking and two are listening that does not count as a group of 3. The 3
must be only listeners not also speaking. The reason being, and this is an
interesting but important psychology, is that Chaza”l say that bad
people often regret what they do or say, therefore in this case if two were
speaking an only two listening then it is very possible that those speaking
might regret the negative they said about there fellow and wouldn’t want to
repeat it so the news would never spread.
9 we learned that adding anything to what one hear in front of 3
is absolutely forbidden whether it is just adding an acknowledgement that what
you heard sounds nice or must be true and definitely embellishing what you
heard is absolutely forbidden.
10 the Chofetz Chaim warns that if you know that if one of the
people listening is someone who is known to accept everything on face value as
truth and has a tendency to spread it then you must be very careful not to
speak to him anything even a hint of negativity about anyone. He concludes that
the chances of being able to check off all that has to be checked off in order
to use the leniency of apie tlasa is very far-fetched and even if you do there
are poskim that say the leniency should not be used because it has no source in
the Talmud. So stay far away. We concluded that even in a case where the
statement made can be taken in two ways, should also be avoided, therefore if
you want to bring your message across be as clear and positive as possible,
like in a case where someone asks where he can get a good meal, be straight
forward, don’t say this family always has something boiling up in there pot.
Today we learned about
keeping secrets. Even if lashon hara was said in a group and could inevitably
spread but if they were told to keep it a secret then no one is ever permitted
to reveal it. Even if one or two others broke the promise of secrecy the third
cannot reveal it because without him it will not go public. The whole allowance
of apei tlasa is because when there are three people who heard the news three
people are enough to create a chain reaction of everyone hearing about it. If
it is one or two people then a lot of people might wind up hearing about it but
not everyone. Even so there are others reason of why not to repeat it. The Yad
Ketana said it can only be repeated because the person telling it obviously
didn’t mind it being repated if said in a group but in this case he does mind
because he told everyone to keep it a secret. There is also a verse in Mishlei
(11:13) which says “One who walk as a talebearer reveals secrets.”
There seems to be an extra special prohibition of revealing secrets so even if
it was told in a group of four and three of them broke the secret so everyone
knows about it, the fourth one is still forbidden to tell it over to anyone.
Today we discussed that apei tlasa, in most cases only can be spread within the immediate area that the original lashon hara was heard. The Chofetz Chaim made a distinction between major sins like adultery which will spread elsewhere from city to city, and for example a tailor who is known to mess up on his jobs which is minor so can only be contained in the city that it was spoken. He said that even if it is a very big city then the apei tlasa would only be spread in that area an no further. For example a minor sin or mistake like the tailor case which was said in Flatbush cannot be spread o the rest of New York City like in Queens, Manhattan or maybe even Boro Park. One way to possibly gauge the difference between a major sin and a minor one is whether it would be in the local news or make it to the national news networks. But we were unsure, with the advent of internet and social media if the city limits have broadened, but as the Chofetz Chaim is constantly saying, one should err on the side of error and stay as far away as possible from permitting such speech.
Footnote 9: Just to be aware of the severity of lashon hara. The starting assumption is that lashon hara or rechilus is ischazik issura, meaning that it is halachically assumed to be forbidden like any other prohibition which can’t just be permitted based a aingke person’s hearsay and that is why the person who lashon hara was repeated to after it was heard in front of three can’t just repeat it again since a single witness isn’t believed on assumed prohibition unless he can prove that he can make it permissible which is virtually impossible by lashon hara especially since meeting all the parameter of the permissibility of apei tlasa is very rare.
Halacha 5: If the 3 people in the group of apei tlasa are G-D fearing people who are careful not to speak lashon hara then The permissibility of api tlasa doesn’t apply because the word won’t spread. This means that the whole permissibility is based on the fact that non-G-D fearing people talk and rumors then spread whether true or not. It so happens that it makes no difference whether all 3 who are listening are G-D fearing or even just one, or if one of them was just a relative or a good friend of the one being talked about then we have to assume the lashon hara wouldn’t spread because there aren’t at least 3 people who might leak it to anyone else.
Footnote 12 says: The source of this Halacha comes from a Mishna in the first chapter of Sanhedrin that a judge, presumably a G-D fearing individual cannot report to anyone that he found the litigant innocent and the other 2 judges found him guilty. Even if it was 7 judges and 4 said guilty and 3 said innocent so now there are 3 people, apei tlasa, who heard the four judges say guilty still the 3 can’t spread the news of which judges gave the guilty verdict, it appears from the Mishna therefore it must be that apei tlasa doesn’t apply to G-D fearing Jews. He brings many proofs to prove his reading of that Mishna.
Footnote 13: There is one exception to the circumstance where one of the 3 is a relative, friend, or G-D fearing which is a case of a protest when an owner of a property claims to them that so-and-so is poaching on my land land which is ok to believe and spread so that the so called poacher can be sure he keeps the appropriate documents to prove he is allowed on the land. So even a relative, friend , or G-D fearing Jew would spread the word just to help him not to get into trouble.
Note 7 defines, ate least according to the Yad Hachazaka, exactly what is “chavra chavrach ees ley:” Only when you have no intentions of spreading the news then if it just comes up in conversation, the nature of the world seems to be that it will be repeated from person to person. The news will just keep on rolling for a long time. However when one wants to intentionally spread some juicy info and he makes announcements and tries publicising to as many people as quickly as possible then the news will get out there but wil not stay out there for a long time and when eventually dissipate, this is considered outright lashon hara and does not fit the category of “chavra chavrach ees lei.”
Note 8 mentions an argument between the Chofetz Chaim and the Yad Hachazaka on why a person who heard this piece of news with at least two other people can repeat under the proper circumstances quoting who he heard it from. The Yad HaChazaka says you can quote who you heard this info from because the fact he said it in a group of at least 3 intimated that he doesn’t care if he is quoted. (Which means there could be situations where he would care and you can’t quote him.) But the Chofetz Chaim says the reason why he can be quoted is because everyone is going to know by who and what was said any way since it was said b’apei tlasa. However the Chofetz Chaim warns everyone that this shouldn’t be a reason to loosely allow you to speak lashon hara because the chances of all the parameters of apei tlasa being met is very farfetch so one should be very cautios!
Halacha 4 says that even if one of the at 3 people who heard it repeats it, the 3rd party who hears it cannot repeat it, he knows everyone heard about it, because who says it is true and if it can be confirmed that the first person heard it correctly who says he actually heard it with at east two other people. The obvious question we raised was how then does news ever spread? The answer is that there is a concept in Shas that everyone transgresses the laws of lashon hara at some point, at least avak lashon hara (quasy lashon hara which applies by the rules of apei tlasa) therefore because of the unfortunate reality of life whether it is right or not word spreads and repeating it over and over again can potentially become permissible, though as we said earlier it is usually highly unlikely.
We clarified a few details on Apei Tlasa today.
1. On a footnote at the end of note 4 we discussed that according to the Rambam, the Chofetz Chaim suggests, that it is only permissible to throw into a conversation the lashon hara you heard with at least two other people only if it is known that the person you are telling already know about it. But if he doesn’t know, even if he will eventually know you can’t be the one to reveal it. Then the question is how do you know if everyone knows. There is no set time given and in fact every place is different. You can’t expect word to travel everywhere within an hour in a big city, for example. The Chofetz Chaim concludes that he is anyways not sure if this idea is true because no one else seems to say it has to be known by everyone before repeating it, just that it will be known.
2. In note 5 the Chofetz Chaim points out that the lashon hara he’s been talking about isn’t just flat out insults or degradation but anything that might lead to harm whether financially or physically or embarrassment.
3. In note 6 the Chofetz Chaim dealt with a pressing issue of how the Rashbam seems to permit telling the one who was talked about in front of 3 people what was said about him. Isn’t that flat out rechilus, and can just cause major arguments? The Chofetz Chaim says that granted one cannot purposefully tattle on the person who spoke lashon hara to the one it was spoken about certainly not to divulge who said it, just to start a fight, but since everyone will find out what happens anyways, what was said and who said what then even if it wasn’t within a different conversation, as long as you don’t exaggerate what happened the person who heard the lashon hara among at least three other can repeat it to the one it was spoken about because the Smag who explains the Rashbam throws in that a talebearer is one who reveals secrets not one who says something which everyone knows about already.
Today we continued in the Sefer Chofetz Chaim. We discussed a very challenging problem. How does word presumed to be spread if it is forbidden to be said? The Chofetz Chaim compared it to a group of thieves that are traveling together. You wouldn’t say that the first person to steal something is innocent because the rest of the group would have stolen it any way! So to the fact that one person of a group of at least 3 happened to have leaked loshon hara amidst a conversation about something else should mean he does not get a sin, as the Rambam says, because bottom line he spoke badly about someone else who care if word spreads. And how then can word spread if no one is allowed to start spreading it?
The Chofetz Chaim explained 3 views of how to resolve this issue:
1. Rashi in Erechin who said that the case of Rabba bar Rav Huna and word spreading is where the original speaker is talking about himself so he is automatically giving permission to spread what he said about himself, good or bad, if he is willing to say it in a group of at least 3 people.
2. The Rashbam in Bava Basra only permits those in the group to go back to the one who was talked about but not say it to any one else. If the speaker was willing to say what he said in a group of at least 3 he must not care if word gets back to the one being talked about. Granted it might start quarrels, but the Chofetz Chaim seems to be saying that is not the repeater’s responsibility, the original speaker is instigating.
3. The Rambam in halacha 5 of Hilchos Deos, chapter 7 says one does not get a sin if he happened to slip into a conversation this pice of lashon hara that he heard in a group of 3, without intent of spreading the news because he is not acting as a peddler, which is what the Torah describes one who speaks lashon hara as. A peddler is one who takes his goods from one place to another sharing or selling them to others but in this case since word will spread or already has spread in an illegal or legal manner, then the person who slips it into his conversation is not acting as a peddler since he is not giving out information which people don’t already have or won’t have easy access to and there is no intent to act as a peddler in this case of spreading the news, therefore he does not get a sin.
The answer to Tosfos’ view on apei tlasa is that straight out negative lashon hara is forbidden to be said whether in front of 3 or more people or even to the antagonist’s straight up lashon hara is forbidden, also to listen and accept as true. However the leniency is in a case where the statement could be taken in two ways, positive or negative. The key to the leniency is if you don’t feel embarrassed at all to be willing to say it to his face then you may say it to him or her or even in front of 3 people since it will definitely get back to the person being talked about. However if you feel any embarrassment to say it or if your expressions, voice, physical, etc is of a negative connotation it should not be said.
Today we finished the first note of the Be’er Mayim Chaim in Chapter 2 of Sefer Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim makes it very clear that there is no reason what so ever to allow out right lashon hara to be spoken even if it is in front of three people and it will spread to the one being talked about. It actually could be worse. Only if there is some benefit like in a court case the litigant can tell the judges how he was wronged or a messenger of the court can even tell the judges he was disrespected when on the mission of the court to bring someone in. Otherwise it is absolutely forbidden!
In Halacha 2 the Chofetz Chaim begins to explain where the concept of “apei tlasa” does apply. Which is when a pareve statement is made that can be taken one of two ways. As long as you connotation and body language does not indicate negativity then one can say this statement in front of at least 3 people because it will spread and get back to the one being talked about so obviously if he said is he is saying it in a positive light because he wouldn’t want the subject to know what he is saying if it was negative. This type of state is in the category of “avak lashon hara”. The example the Chofetz Chaim gives of such a statement is if a person asked a group of people where can I find some good around here and one of them respond there is always a fire brewing down the street at this guy’s house where they always have fish and meat. This can be taken in a positive light to mean he has a big family and is well to do so they can afford, with G-D’s help lavish food, or it can mean they are always ready to serve guests. But it can also be taken negatively that the guy is a glutton and a fresser. So as long as the one who says the statement doesn’t sound negative and sarcastic then he can say it in a group because we can assume he is just trying to be helpful and positive.