×œÖ¹Ö¥× ×ªÖ´×©Ö¼×‚Ö¸Ö–× ×©×ÖµÖ£×žÖ·×¢ ×©×Ö¸Ö‘×•Ö°×
Do not accept a false report. Shemos 23:1
There is considerable discussion about the definition of the word ×©×Ö¸Ö‘×•Ö°× which we have translated above as â€œfalseâ€. Many meforshim, primary among them Rashi and Onkelos, do translate ×©×Ö¸Ö‘×•Ö°× as meaning false. Rabbeinu Yonah uses a modifier which would translate to something like â€œpossibly falseâ€. Others, such as the Yad Hekatana and Rav Wolbe, translate it to mean something closer to despised, meaning â€œa despised reportâ€. The Chofetz Chaim worries that even if the thing actually happened, it is likely that some details will be added, left out or emphasized to the extent that the report becomes distorted and therefore false. The Chelkas Binyomin, one of the more prominent current commentators on the Sefer Chofetz Chaim, explains that even if the thing actually happened, when someone accepts the report as true, the person being spoken about is inevitably unfairly reduced in the mind of the lister and judged in a way that is false. The halacha brought down by the Rambam and relied upon by the Chofetz Chaim is that accepting lashon hora is prohibited, whether or not it is true.
The gemara in Pesachim (118a) relates the end of the previous pasuk, ×œÖ·×›Ö¼Ö¶Ö–×œÖ¶×‘ ×ªÖ¼Ö·×©×Ö°×œÖ´×›Ö¥×•Ö¼×Ÿ ×Ö¹×ªÖ½×•Ö¹ it should be thrown to the dogs, to our pasuk warning us not to accept a false report: ×•Ö°×Ö¸×žÖ·×¨ ×¨Ö·×‘ ×©×Öµ×©×Ö¶×ª ×žÖ´×©Ö¼××•Ö¼× ×¨Ö·×‘Ö¼Ö´×™ ×Ö¶×œÖ°×¢Ö¸×–Ö¸×¨ ×‘Ö¼Ö¶×Ÿ ×¢Ö²×–Ö·×¨Ö°×™Ö¸×”: ×›Ö¼×‡×œ ×”Ö·×žÖ°×¡Ö·×¤Ö¼Öµ×¨ ×œÖ¸×©××•Ö¹×Ÿ ×”Ö¸×¨Ö¸×¢, ×•Ö°×›×‡×œ ×”Ö·×žÖ°×§Ö·×‘Ö¼Öµ×œ ×œÖ¸×©××•Ö¹×Ÿ ×”Ö¸×¨Ö¸×¢, ×•Ö°×›×‡×œ ×”Ö·×žÖ¼Öµ×¢Ö´×™×“ ×¢Öµ×“×•Ö¼×ª ×©×Ö¶×§Ö¶×¨ ×‘Ö¼Ö·×—Ö²×‘Öµ×™×¨×•Ö¹ â€” ×¨Ö¸××•Ö¼×™ ×œÖ°×”Ö·×©×Ö°×œÖ´×™×›×•Ö¹ ×œÖ´×›Ö°×œÖ¸×‘Ö´×™×, ×©×Ö¶× Ö¼Ö¶×Ö±×žÖ·×¨: ×´×œÖ·×›Ö¼Ö¶×œÖ¶×‘ ×ªÖ¼Ö·×©×Ö°×œÖ´×™×›×•Ö¼×Ÿ ××•Ö¹×ª×•Ö¹×´, ×•Ö¼×›Ö°×ªÖ´×™×‘ ×‘Ö¼Ö¸×ªÖ°×¨Öµ×™×”Ö¼: ×´×œÖ¹× ×ªÖ´×©Ö¼×‚Ö¸× ×©×Öµ×žÖ·×¢ ×©×Ö¸×•Ö°××´, And Rav Sheishes said in the name of Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya: Anyone who speaks lashon hora, anyone who accepts lashon hora as truth, and anyone who testifies falsely about another is fit to be thrown to the dogs, as it is stated â€œ you shall cast it to the dogsâ€ and afterwards it is written: â€œYou shall not accept a false reportâ€.
Regardless of any particular understanding of ×©×Ö¸Ö‘×•Ö°×, the Midrash Rabbah has an insightful explanation of how the pesukim of a false report and being thrown to the dogs are related. The Midrash explains: ×žÖ·×” ×”Ö·×›Ö¼Ö°×œÖ¸×‘Ö´×™× ×Ö¶×—Ö¸×“ × ×•Ö¹×‘Öµ×—Ö· ×•Ö°×›Ö»×œÖ¼Ö¸× ×žÖ´×ªÖ°×§Ö·×‘Ö¼Ö°×¦Ö´×™× ×•Ö°× ×•Ö¹×‘Ö°×—Ö´×™× ×¢Ö·×œ ×—Ö´× Ö¼Ö¸×, ×Ö²×‘Ö¸×œ ×Ö·×ªÖ¼Ö¶× ×œÖ¹× ×ªÖ´×”Ö°×™×•Ö¼ ×›Öµ×Ÿ, ×žÖ´×¤Ö¼Ö°× Öµ×™ ×©×Ö¶×Ö·×ªÖ¼Ö¶× ×Ö·× Ö°×©×Öµ×™ ×§Ö¹×“Ö¶×©×, ×©×Ö¶× Ö¼Ö¶×Ö±×žÖ·×¨: ×•Ö°×Ö·× Ö°×©×Öµ×™ ×§Ö¹×“Ö¶×©× ×ªÖ¼Ö´×”Ö°×™×•Ö¼×Ÿ ×œÖ´×™. When it comes to dogs, one of them barks and then all of them come together and bark for absolutely no reason. But you (Bnei Yisrael) donâ€™t do this because you are a holy people, as it is written: a holy people you shall be to me. The Yefei Toar expands upon this saying that the first dog might have had some reason for barking but the other dogs are barking for absolutely no reason. A person might have some rationalized reason for speaking improperly, perhaps they are in a fight with the person they are speaking about and are angry. That doesnâ€™t excuse the aveira but at least we can figure out its source. But if others who have no â€œdog in the fightâ€ repeat it, they are as senseless as the pack of dogs barking for no reason. The Midrash tells us that we are a holy nation and, therefore, we should not do this. Perhaps the end of the Midrash is giving us the solution to how to avoid falling into this trap of senselessly accepting and spreading information– remember that you, and every other member of Bnei Yisrael is holy.
The prohibition of accepting/spreading a false report has several interpretations and the halacha is that we are prohibited from believing and repeating lashon hora even if it is true. Someone who accepts lashon hora as truth and/or spreads it, overlooks his own inherent kedushah, the kedushah of his fellow Jews, and is akin to acting like a mindless animal.
Focus on the concept that according to most opinions someone who believes lashon hora is punished more severely than the person who initially spoke it. If we resolve to not believe and not repeat lashon hora, then those who do speak lashon hora will be unsuccessful in the goal to disparage and damage others.
Shmirah Ba’Shavua will be published as a sefer containing several lessons from each Parsha.
For sefer sponsorships or to sponsor the Parsha Sheet, please contact David Linn email@example.com.