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What are the basic rules of Lashon Hara?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » Jewish Identity » Love thy Neighbor | Subscribe | What is RSS?


– “You shall not go around as a gossipmonger amidst your people (Leviticus 19:16).” This prohibition applies even to innocent gossip about (seemingly) innocuous subject matter. One may not offer information about Mr. A to Mr. B without a compelling reason. Obviously, the transgression is compounded when the information being relayed is of a negative nature. “Innocent” gossip is called Rechilut (gossip pedaling); relaying something bad about another is called Lashon Hara (the evil tongue). Libelous gossip, which clearly is even worse, is called Motzee Shem Rah. See I Samuel, chapter 22 for an example of the tragic results of innocent gossip.

– It is also forbidden to listen to Lashon Hara. The Talmud says (Arachin 15b) that “Lashon Hara kills three: the one who said it, the one who listened and the one about whom it was said.”

– One’s words should always be measured, to ascertain that nothing detrimental to another will result from them.


1. When asked about someone, one shouldn’t respond: “I’d rather not talk about that individual and/or situation.” True, Lashon Hara wasn’t said – but it was implied!

2. Don’t praise a person in front of his enemy. That will only cause him to respond with Lashon Hara.

– It is permitted to speak Lashon Hara for the purpose of protecting a person from harm. For example: one is permitted (and obligated) to notify a person of another’s conspiracy against him.


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Posted by: Elisheva on Aug 17, 2005

isn't it also lashon hara to say something against yourself - for instance "oyy im such a dope" or "im so stupid" etc?

Editor's Comment

That is correct, such statements should be avoided.


Mitzvot » Love thy Neighbor

Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
1. A prophet and judge who appointed Saul as the first king of Israel in the 9th century BCE. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, named after the abovementioned Samuel, one of the main characters of the book.
Lashon Hara
Lit.: Evil tongue. Harmful gossip. Lashon Hara is forbidden no matter if the gossip is true or false.
The third of the Five Books of Moses. This book deals with the service (of the Levite Tribe) in the Tabernacle, and contains many of the 613 commandments.