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When the Chofetz Chaim (Klal 2, §3) codifies the allowance to relate slander heard b'apei t'lasa (a statement made in front of three people, which is considered avidi l'geluei and therefore already public), he adds a clause (§4):

ואפלו מה שהתרנו... דוקא השומע הראשון, ששמע בעצמו מה שראובן ספר על שמעון באפי תלתא {בפני שלשה}, אבל מי ששמע ממנו, אסור לילך אחר כך על סמך הזה, שאמר לו המספר לו ששמע דבר זה באפי תלתא, ולספר לאחר מהגנות ששמע על שמעון, אף אם לא יזכיר מי הוא המוציא והמביא הלעז הזה על שמעון, אם לא שכבר נתפרסם הדבר ונודע לכל

Simply put, this hetter applies only to one of the three original listeners. However, although any of the three is permitted to pass it on to others, one who hears it from them may not continue to relate the story - because although if it was said b'apei t'lasa it becomes permitted, the 'second-generation' listener has no firsthand knowledge that it was actually said b'apei t'lasa, and is not permitted to believe his friend that it was so (because he is עד אחד נגד איתחזק איסורא).

My question is:

There is an apparent contradiction: The Chofetz Chaim writes (Klal 4:11) that one is permitted to say lashon hora when it is l'toeles (justified motives), provided one was told from his questioner that it was relevant l'toieles.

Both l'toieles and b'apei t'lasa are allowances to say something which would otherwise be forbidden. Why by b'apei t'lasa am I not allowed to believe someone that these are the circumstances and therefore permitted speech, but by l'toieles I am allowed (or even obligated) to believe that circumstances permit the lashon hora?

  • Because the original telling before 3 was a sin, so you're believing someone sinned, whereas believing a toeles exists isn't per se believing someone sinned. This seems to me to be the obvious answer but I've no source for it and am not well versed in this book so am not posting it as an answer. – msh210 Jul 2 '19 at 8:48
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    @msh210 - It doesn't work. 1) The C"C is clearly talking even if he doesn't tell you who said it; there is nothing wrong with believing that somebody did a sin if you don't know who it was. 2) He explains his rationale in Beer Mayim Chaim becuase of עד אחד נגד איתחזיק איסורא – chortkov2 Jul 2 '19 at 9:08

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