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I'm a Slander Victim!

I'm a Slander Victim!

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Question:

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?

Response:

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 chabad.org 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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Discussion (11)
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'
Ynot
BC Canada
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.
Ari G
Highland Park, NJ
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.
elisheba bridgebuilder
ocala, fl / 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....
Alexandra
Denver, Co, 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,
Anonymous
potomac, md/usa
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').
Anonymous
Aust.
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.
Chana R. B.
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.
Anonymous
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.
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.
Avital
Miami, FL
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