Q: I am a junior in high school. When we started out as a new class, a group of girls ridiculed and spoke negatively of a specific classmate. She seemed like a fine girl, but was in the habit of attracting negative attention to herself by her unacceptable social behavior, as in telling secrets in public. Personally, my impressions of her were good, but I was influenced by the atmosphere in the class. (I did refrain from speaking lashon hara about her.)
Now, towards the end of the year, the issue has been forgotten and our classmate has integrated nicely. Am I obligated to ask her forgiveness for having listened to lashon hara about her and subconsciously believing the negativity? I know that if I bring up the subject it will hurt her. What should I do?
A: Since you did not speak lashon hara about the girl, and you only slightly believed the slander, it did not cause your classmate damage. Therefore, it is enough to feel remorse for your actions, to weed out your negative opinions of her, to believe in her inherent goodness and to accept upon yourself not to believe lashon hara in the future.
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