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I'm a Slander Victim!

I'm a Slander Victim!



I am a victim of slander. A woman at my office has been saying things about me that make me look bad. I thought that she was my friend, and I am shocked that she would talk about me in such a way! Doesn't Judaism forbid this kind of talk?


I'm sorry to hear about your difficult situation. As you write, speaking bad of others is prohibited by the Torah—it's called lashon hara (the evil tongue)—and it can cause incredible harm to the one speaking it, to those who hear it, and to the one they are speaking about.

I know that advice is much easier to give than to follow. But I believe that if you do what I am about to write, there is a good chance that you will be much happier in the long run.

When dealing with darkness, there are two options: you can attempt to sweep it out the door with a broom, or you can light a candle, and the darkness will vanish. When dealing with the spiritual darkness that lashon hara causes, the best remedies are empathy and respect.

You can administer both these remedies by simply trying your best to judge this person favorably. Assume that there is some misunderstanding. Then do something wild and wonderful: approach her as a friend and speak to her at the right time in a positive tone. G‑d willing, you will manage to quickly sort this out, and you'll have brought more light into the world.

Who knows, maybe you'll even make a new friend.

Mrs. Rochel Chein is a member of the Ask the Rabbi team.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Anonymous ny August 23, 2014

obligation to protect ones name and reputation May years ago due to a nasty divorce in the family, the other family ( not local) spread horrible and untrue tales all around the community where it spread to other Jewish communities, the hurt and disbelief that people we had grown up with and helped to build our community with, would believe and listen to such sinas chinam was shocking and humiliating.
Until this day, the lies continue to hurt and haunt our family and extended family in many areas of our lives. A prominent Rabbi in the community well versed in Halacha advised us that we have an obligation to defend our name and reputation from such destructive talk. You should never just turn the other cheek and hope the person will change - chances are they know what their behavior is doing and are doing it with the intention to cause harm to you and your family and it should never be swept under the rug and ignored or it will escalate. Reply

Ynot BC Canada April 18, 2013

Shalom... outside the Home. I lived in a small town, a village really. A lady had begun to date my husband's cousin. Shortly afterwards a local shopkeeper warned me that this newcomer had accused me of being an unfaithful wife . Because I had , for many years, cultivated respect in that village, not only for myself, but for my husband.and children.. that concerned me greatly. After some prayerful contemplation, I printed out the civil laws regarding slander and invited her to a coffee. I explained to her the law concerning slander, politely telling her she is breaking such law, by saying an untruth publicly. She turned quite the shade of pale and was speechless. Although I've lost touch with her - I have heard she has turned a 'new leaf' Reply

Anonymous July 28, 2017
in response to Ynot:

Wow, that is really amazing! Thank you for sharing, I am now a subject of lashon hara by a person in authority, who talked falsehoods and half-truths about me to another person. I found it unbelievable that a person like him would talk lashon hara, and reading your story is encouraging me to clarify with him that perhaps he had misunderstood the situation. Reply

Ari G Highland Park, NJ January 22, 2012

Chofetz Chaim The most encompassing book dealing with all aspects of lashon hara (slander) is Sefer Chofetz Chaim. There is also a companion work, Sefer Shmiras Halashon. Reply

elisheba bridgebuilder ocala, fl / usa November 10, 2011

slander Remaining calm & polite & empathetic WHILE you report them to the supervisor is necessary to safeguard personnel relations & the company's public relations. As an employee we have to make supervisors aware of these conflicts. There are difficult things we have to confront as responsible adults. It is not pleasant but at least you will have peace that you did your duty. Reply

Alexandra Denver, Co, USA April 17, 2011

SLANDER..... All Jews, sadly, run the risk of being slandered. It's called anti-Semitism, and PEOPLE OF OTHER RACES & RELIGIONS DON'T HAVE TO PUT UP WITH IT! As for Judaism "forbidding" something -- to quote the "Sweet Valley High" teen TV show: "You forbid me? You don't know much about America, do you?" People usually act in their own self-interest, no matter how "religious" they are. My "religious" uncles took away my dad's car after he died, (it was owned by the failing family business) -- but they SHOULD have found SOME way to "take care of the widow & orphan", (my mom & me) -- but it was expediant for them not to. Only really good people (saints) will go against their own self-interest to help others. Being "religious" has little or nothing to do with it. Most people don't care what 'religious law" says about slander or anything else - if obeying religious law suits their purposes, they will obey. If it doesn't -- they won't. Sadly, this is the 21st century.... Reply

Anonymous potomac, md/usa January 5, 2011

slander if this woman is a religious yid (jew) and if being "friends" with her resulted in her slandering you, i really doubt that she is of such a high level to appreciate the "light a candle in darkness" effect. i think, she will give more disrespect, Reply

Anonymous Aust. November 18, 2010

Cyberspace With interest I read this article and Reader Comments and appreciate the very worthwhile points throughout. Apart from mothers who have mentioned to me their concern for their children who have become involved in this, I know of certainly more than one adult who is trying to live with this 'in the real world.' What I am refering to is cyberspace! May I solicit advice and feedback on this topic in the context of what 'the slandered' can possibly do about the damage caused given the present availablility and enormous scope that slanderers (who could also be termed as bullies or murderers) have once this topic enters the arena of cyberspace (keeping in mind that cyberspace also includes many people who know 'the slandered'). Reply

Chana R. B. October 26, 2010

Make a Good Name for Yourself This is topic which I understand well. There are cases where it is not possible to know all the people who have heard the gossip and to explain to them. In such cases, making a good name for yourself in general by showing your good side and consistently behaving in a positive way will fight fire with fire. It will cause wiser people to doubt the truth of the slanderous statements. Most comforting to know is that G-d runs the world and no one can change your destiny. Reply

Anonymous October 25, 2010

Make your own decision A woman purposely lied about me. She did it out of hate, and jealousy. I told anyone who would listen why she gossiped about me.

It stopped her in her tracks. If I had kept silent, it would have appeared that she was telling the truth, and she would have continued to spread lies against me or someone else. I am thankful to G-d that I made the right decision to protect myself and others. Reply

Avital Miami, FL October 25, 2010

Extreme circumstances? I think there is a big difference between idle gossip and malicious intent to ruin someone's life. It's up to the woman who wrote in to decide. Unless she feels confident enough to go face-to-face with this woman and confront her, anything else she does to fight back may result in lashon hara (gossip) on her part as well. Maybe the woman spreading gossip IS trying to ruin her life, or maybe it's something as simple as a jealousy, insecurity issue, or misunderstanding. I think bringing "light" to the situation as Rochel suggested is, at least, the best place to start. Reply

Avital Miami, FL October 25, 2010

Exactly. To feel negatively toward this woman (even just because you're hurt) in the beginning, may lead to bitterness and anger later. Give her a genuine compliment one day, or invite her to coffee with other women from the office. This is a test for both of you to practice forgiveness. Reply

Anonymous October 25, 2010

your solution does not always work Dear Rabbi,

While it is a meritorious thought and action to do the above, it doesn't always work, sometimes people slander for their own purposes and it is not something you can slide under the rug if they ruin your life or attempt to ruin your life and others in the is the equivalent of murder and i was taught is a mitzva to fight back..pretending like it doesn't exist and just doing good does not always work with such people..though it would be nice if it did. Reply

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