Q: I was sitting and shmoozing with some friends. Suddenly somebody mentioned something negative, but true, about me. I contemplated commenting, “It’s hotza’as shem ra,” and then realized that it would be a lie, since the facts were true.
On the other hand, if I would remark that it was lashon hara, all those present would realize that the story did indeed transpire. Fortunately, a friend who noticed how awkward I felt managed to change the subject. I now wonder what to do in a similar situation.
A: Even if the story was true, in this case it would be permissible to deny it. It is preferable to react in an indirect manner to avoid lying. One way would be to say, “Why are you accusing me?” When there’s no other way out, it would be permissible to say, “The particulars aren’t true, and may include lashon hara or hotza’as shem ra.”
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