Better Than Your Grandmother’s Lashon Hora

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5 Responses

  1. joel rich says:

    Might want to consider another term- cognitive dissonance- which can result when one accepts  “modern social science” when it is in agreement with what one already believes but rejects it when it does not (this is called confirmation bias)

    I haven’t read Rabbi Feldman’s sefer but have heard  him speak on the topic and am left with the same feeling as with many speakers on the topic – most questions require you to go to a poseik.  Of course this works in some specific situations but in day to day life ISTM we’re still trying to take an ethical/mida subjective topic best learned from role models and trying to force it into a Boolean halachic code model. The result too often may be people throwing up their hands and just doing whatever.


    [YA – People are free to throw up their hands at whatever, but the fact remains that much of halacha can (roughly) be described as taking role models in the gemara and turning principles extracted from them into a a Boolean halachic code. ]

    • Steve Brizel says:

      JR-R Feldman’s sefarim in style and sweep remind me of the sefarim of R S Y Zevin ZL-a great survey of the halachic issue at hand with many mareh mkomos for the reader interested in looking further than the detailed presentation of R Feldman

  2. joel rich says:


    If so, it suggests  a broader discussion of what changed that up until the time of the Chofetz Chaim, codifiers seem to have felt that Lashon Hara did not lend itself to this level of codification.

    Here’s a link to a R’ Feldman shiur on the topic and my audioroundup summary:,_Lashon_Hara_and_the_Internet:_Real_Halakha_for_a_Digital_World_
    Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman  -Thanksgiving, Lashon Hara and the Internet: Real Halakha for a Digital World
    R’Feldman applies the rules of lashon hara (which he writes and speaks about frequently) to the internet.  The issues of disinhibition and the size of the megaphone come into play (as does the role of the host).  Implication seems to be that judgment is always required (which ISTM is true of lashon hara in general – but that’s another riff of mine).



    [YA – Almost from the starting gate, Rabbi Feldman does not shy away from that discussion in the book]

  3. Steve Brizel says:

    I highly recommend R Feldman’s latest book. It surveys and restates  the halachic underpinnings of Lashon Hara based on an extremely detailed analysis of the halachic literature which as R Adlerstein noted , includes sources not found on the best Halacha and TSBP search engines, and demonstrates the importance of the consequences thereof, based on contemporary academic literature the untoward effect of the same.There is simply no other work on this subject that contains an extremely comprehensive command of both the Halachic and secular literature on the issue of Lashon Harah today. R Feldman has shown in this book as well as in his others that what we assume is Musar and/or Midos Tovos has immense halachic underpinnings and consequences. The book also contains the halachic views of RHS and R M Willig on common questions in the area of shidduchim that callers receive as to a potential shidduch. This book, as are any of R Feldman’s many shiurim on YU Torah, is mandatory IMO if you are interested in a superb and thorough exploration of an area that is all too often reduced to drashos and sippurei chasidim.

  4. Tal Benschar says:

    There may be less objective truth in its report than the Torah is comfortable with. “The lashon hara prohibition may be premised upon the assumption that even true information can create a false picture of an individual.”

    Perhaps there is a simpler explanation.  There is a famous vort of the Kotzker on the Mishna in Avos that states Heve dan es kol ha adam le kaf zechus.  The Kotzker novel interpretation is that we are bidden to judge the entirety of a person — kol ha adam — simply focus on one fault.

    Perhaps this is the difference between lashon ha ra with and without a toeles.  Even if true, the faults of a person only give one an incomplete picture, and it is still harmful to him to spread true negative information.  The exception is if I have a need to know.  To illustrate, if Ploni is known to cheat in business, then that information is certainly important to someone considering a business partnership with Ploni.  To others, however, such information would tend to give a distorted picture, since human nature is to exaggerate the negative.

    Just a thought.

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