Blogging and Loshon Hora (Gossip)

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12 Responses

  1. DMZ says:

    I think I phrased my question incorrectly, so I’ll try again – your response was indeed enlightening, however. I’m desperately wishing I had a copy of the laws of the shmiras halashon beside me to delve into, but alas, all my sefarim are at my new apartment (where I am not at).

    I _thought_, however, that there was an issue with “slandering the community”. Am I incorrect? My thrust was not so much that you had to name names to get action done (although a semi-recent incident with NCSY is worth considering with regards to that), but that there would seem to be an issue of telling tales about the community in general.

    Let’s take for example, I don’t know, the shidduch problem. Is it wrong to state, in public, that the community has serious, serious problems, outline them, and suggest solutions? Certainly, applying this to a named person is wrong, but what about the Jewish community?

    Jewish blogging ethics… might be an interesting book.


  2. MJB says:

    Loshon Hara by way of the internet is a very serious issue. I stopped reading the blog you referrenced because I felt that the allegations and innuendo were loshon hara and had very little chance of being “LeToelet” or meeting any of the other heterim. I am really impressed with the quality of the conributors and the respectful and earnest tone of the comments. Aleh Vehatzlach

  3. Fotheringay-phipps says:

    “How many times have we heard the canard about Maimonides endorsing wife-beating, despite the abysmal ignorance of the Hebrew language (not to mention Jewish Law) reflected in this pathetic misreading of the words on the page?”

    What is the ignorance involved here (the Rambam does in fact condone it in certain circumstances – if these are stretched it would be a “canard” but you can’t wish it all away).

  4. Fotheringay-phipps says:

    Not actual spouse abuse – to clarify – the court administers, not the husband

  5. Yaakov Menken says:

    Well, F-P, just drop the word “actual,” and there you are: “not spouse abuse.” The passage says that the court may punish a wife, just as it may punish a husband. The last time I checked, a punishment from the legal system did not quite qualify as “spouse abuse.”

    If you want gender bias, see the Ra’avad there. He says a court beating a man is fine, but never saw that corporal punishment could be administered to a woman. That’s flagrant bias, but I’ve never heard these people complain about the Ra’avad…

  6. Fotheringay-phipps says:

    Well I wasn’t sure what the claimers were claiming, and didn’t see what might have been misread. I don’t know if the Ra’avad means no women are ever beaten for anything – he means for failing to live up to spousal obligations (haven’t looked into this, though). I think some people are uncomfotable with the notion of using physical force for failure to live up to spousal obligations. People are more worked up about wife-abuse than husband abuse these days, despite the actual numbers being closer than one might expect.

    I’m with you in general on people taking Jewish sources out of context.

  7. Shlomo says:

    we are required to talk to authorities in cases of childhood abuse (emotional, physical and sexual abuse), rabbinical sexual misconduct, domestic violence. This includes when an alleged offender is one of our friends.

  8. Fotheringay-phipps says:

    Just a brief note to commend you for deleting the post. I did not see it and have no idea if it’s true or what the whole story is about, for that matter. But you’re on the right track – there’s no “brave new world” of the internet that suddenly allows all laws of lashon hora to be suspended.

    Keep up the good work.

  9. the element says:

    From where I am from, there are a lot of problems, most of which cannot be dealt with under the table and out of the public eye, because they involve so many people. But the fact is, that no one does a single that compunding the problem even further. In instances like that, it would seem like Lashon Hara, would be a necessary step to in some ways fixing that problem, or at least making it known, so that people who aren’t involved voluntarily can remove themselves from that situation.

  10. Yaakov Menken says:

    DMZ – You asked about Loshon Hora about a group. There is, most certainly, such an issue. “Chassidim are lazy.” “MO’s aren’t really observant.” “Yeshiva guys are closed-minded.” “Rabbonim shelter evil-doers.” All of these would be hotza’as shem ra, because they do meet the criteria of Loshon Hora, and are also false.

    What they share in common is that not only do they lack to’eles, but also that if after hearing the above you would meet a Chassid, “MO,” Yeshiva guy or Rabbi, you might believe it and think, “oh, he’s a lazy Chassid!” (etc.) Either of these two things — lacking to’eles or letting the listener think badly of an individual member of a group — is wrong.

    But if you say, “hey, there’s a shidduch problem,” and I meet a person afterwards, am I going to think “hey, he’s bad, because he created a problem?” Of course not — for two reasons. First, the problem isn’t anyone’s fault, any more than someone was responsible for the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Second, even if it were, you wouldn’t point at anyone (or any group) afterwards.

    A better example: people spend too much on weddings. They do, and Rabbonim make rules about it. Does that mean the person who made a huge wedding last week is bad? Not necessarily — sometimes circumstances demand an exception, and you won’t know when or why.

    Think within those guidelines. Any number of posts thus far have been self-analytical and/or self-critical. That’s a good thing. We are a learning and growing community, and we should address problems as they arise.

  11. callieisrachel says:

    I spoke with my rabbi about this matter of blogging and loshon hora and he said people who need to vent their feelings and commiserate in an ANONYMOUS way is OK. This does not cause harm or any embarrassment to the people involved. The rules are that intent must be considered in the matter, no harmful intent is invloved in most blogs. One can never try to harm another or cause them to lose a job.

  1. December 30, 2004

    Orthodox Jews Blogging
    While I was making the rounds through some of the blogs that I read on a semi-daily basis, I found a link to a rather new blog, called “Cross-Currents”, that Rabbi Yaakov Menken (my former employer and founder of put together so that some …

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