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(Inspired by this question)

Who came up with the No Offense loophole of:

No offense, but your sweater makes you look fat.

OR

No offense, but if you really think what you just said is true, you're an 'Am HaAretz Gamur MeDeoraisa!

And the list can go on and on.

Who came up with adding No Offense, which basically means "without insulting you" to things that seem like insults?!

Does that remove one from the liability of Lashon Hara'?

I have even heard people say:

No offense, but if everyone in this room were chosen to go to the moon to start a new colony of the world's brightest people, you'd be the guy sent to the sun, and they'd tell you it's just a short stop there because they want to make you a little brighter!

Really now?

Does No Offense remove the prohibition of HaMalbin Pnei Haveiro BeRabim?

How does this all work, and what are the ramifications in Halachah?


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closed as too localized by Isaac Moses Mar 12 '12 at 5:09

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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This stems from a well-known Sifri* on the parsha of ha’bo b’machteres, where he says:

Ha’bo b’machteres nidon al shem sofo — The criminal who has crawled into your house is liable for his own blood, and because of this, you may defend yourself through any means possible, including insults.

The Shach quotes this Sifri**, and derives a fundamental law of loshon hara:

“You may defend yourself through any means... including insults” — Why does the Sifri mention insults? I already knew that you could use insults, because ein lo damim implies he has no life, and you can insult people who have no life, such as a goseis and people living in Cleveland***! The inclusion comes to teach us that more general case, with any individual, we are allowed to insult, so long as we clarify our insult with the phrase “no offense”, as in, “No offense, but the tunnel you dug to get into my house is very poorly engineered.”

The Shulchan Aruch**** agrees with this opinion, and the Mishna Berura***** quotes it as halacha.


* not really

** not really

*** Some girsaos change this to “New Jersey”.

**** not really

***** not really

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According to the Madimup Rebbe, adding "no offense" became a custom to avoid HaMalbin issues, in the same way that adding "b'li neder" avoids the problem of making a promise.

The Heliege Madimup states further that these two clauses may be combined, when the situation warrants it. For example:

"No offense, but I swear to Bob* I'm gonna punch your face in, b'li neder"

*even for PT, I'm not going to type a phrase in which one swears to Hashem, but y'all get the point.

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Hamalmin Pnei Chaveyto Beravim only applies when the two people involved are fighting-(ברבים). "No offense" is a declaration that you do not wish to instigate a fight or an argument, hence you circumvent the issur.

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2  
Always, welcome to Judaism.SE and thanks for your hora'as heter on this important issue. I look forward to seeing you around. –  WAF Mar 7 '12 at 18:48
    
Very good, very good. –  Seth J Mar 11 '12 at 3:29

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