Q: A few years ago I was tactlessly fired from my job. At that point, I was distraught and spoke a lot of lashon hara about my former boss and workplace. Those who listened to my complaints justified them and agreed that I had indeed been victimized. Baruch Hashem, I found a better job and managed to calm down and forgive the supervisor. I realized that it was preordained and she was only a messenger. Additionally, I was told that she regretted the aggravation she had caused me and, though nothing came of it, she had worked on rehiring me.
By now I know that it is incumbent upon me to ask for forgiveness, and wanted to clarify some issues.
I do not feel comfortable telling her what I said about her. Would asking forgiveness in general on Erev Rosh Hashanah suffice?
The incident took place many years ago, and those who listened to the slander have probably forgotten about it by now. Must I trace them down in order to undo the negativity from their hearts?
A: Asking for forgiveness in general on Erev Rosh Hashanah is sufficient if no other option exists.
In your case, the listeners have in all likelihood forgotten what they heard years back. Having understood at the time that there are two sides to the story, they didn’t fully agree with your negative account. It therefore seems that you are not obligated to remove the negativity from your listeners’ hearts, because in doing so you are likely to transgress the issur of lashon hara again by reawakening forgotten memories.
What you can do is seek out opportunities to praise the subject of your original slanderous conversations in front of those who originally heard it, thus rectifying your wrong.
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