Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: I was at the entrance of a building where an event was being held for my workplace, when I met a coworker coming out of the elevator. She said to me: “If you want to take my advice, then follow me and make an about-face. The speech is boring; the speaker repeats himself and he has no novel ideas to offer.”

I listened to her and then left the place. I had had little interest in attending to begin with and had only come to pay my respects to my employer.

I’m now concerned that I may have transgressed the prohibition of accepting lashon hara regarding the speaker.

I must note that I hadn’t heard his name before and didn’t have any personal interest regarding his personality or speech. I accepted my friend’s words because I was happy to have an excuse to go back home.

A: You say that you arrived at the auditorium with little interest, and were just coming to do your duty. From your description it seems that the fact that you left, before entering the hall, was not because of accepting lashon hara about the speaker, but because you thought there might be some truth to her statement, and felt that it would be a pity to waste precious time on something you might not enjoy. That is, you acted only limeichish — upon a suspicion. Had you been interested in spending an hour to air out and not been in a rush, you would have stayed on, on the chance that you would enjoy it. Decide now that whatever you heard regarding the speaker is not necessarily true, and it is only a safek. This then would not be a prohibition of kabbalas lashon hara; only limeichish — suspecting that your friend was right. (There are additional reasons why this isn’t a case of kabbalas lashon hara.)

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