When speaking negatively about someone, whether about an Aveirah that person did, or a bad middah he has, one transgresses the aveirah of Lashon Hara. The same is true if a negative remark can cause some type of loss to the person spoken about. This is described at length in the Sefer Chafetz Chaim.

I am looking for the source (in the Chofetz Chaim) that speaking other negative things about someone, not related to an aveirah or middah and which cannot cause harm, is also not allowed because of Lashon Hara.

For example, is telling a humorous story about someone who slipped on a banana peel Lashon Hara? It is neither an Aveirah nor a middah.

  • Not directly from the Chofetz Chaim, but in Mesilas Yesharim, it writes: One's words should be of honoring [others] not of belittling them. Likewise scripture says: "he who belittles his fellow lacks sense" (Mishlei 11:12). So yes, telling about someones misfortune, e.g. someone slipped and fell, this is belittling someone, and can harm the person.
    – Shmuel
    Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 15:34
  • @Shmuel does the Mesilas Yesharim speak to the transgression of Lashon Hara when this is done? I am not questioning the immorality.
    – Yoreinu
    Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 22:10
  • 1
    Where does it single out aveiros and middos?
    – shmosel
    Commented May 19 at 6:24
  • Why would a humorous story about someone slipping on a banana peal be Loshon Hara? It can be, but ot really depends on the context
    – larry909
    Commented May 20 at 11:30
  • 1
    "For example, is telling a humorous story about someone who slipped on a banana peel Lashon Hara? It is not an Aveirah, nor a middah." Doesn't the humor in such stories typically revolve around some implied character attribute (in your example, perhaps aloofness, easy-distractibility, etc.)? Commented May 20 at 16:04

2 Answers 2


See the פתיחה להלכות לשון הרע ורכילות, לאוין in the Sefer Chofetz Chaim.

וְיֵשׁ עָוֹן גָּדוֹל מִזֶּה עַד מְאֹד וְהוּא לָשׁוֹן הָרָע וְהוּא בִּכְלַל לָאו זֶה, וְהוּא הַמְסַפֵּר בִּגְנוּת חֲבֵרוֹ, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאוֹמֵר אֱמֶת

This would mean all talk that is belittles the other would be included in the Issur of Lashon Hara.


Klal 3 in sefer Chafetz Chaim covers a number of rules related to your question

Telling a humorous story with negative implications is forbidden (3:3)

And see further how great the issur of lashon hara is. For even if he does not speak out of hatred and does not intend in what he says to demean him, but speaks only in jest and from light-headedness, still, since in truth these are demeaning words, it is forbidden by the Torah.

Speaking "innocently" is forbidden (3:5)

And there are many other modes of "men of lashon hara" speaking by deceit, e.g., speaking "innocently" of their friends as if they did not know that what they spoke was lashon hara, or that these were the acts of Ploni [his friend], etc. All such and their like are in the category of lashon hara.

Speaking without causing harm is also forbidden (3:6)

And know that even if no harm came to that man from his lashon hara, as when the listeners did not accept his words, or the like, even so they do not depart from the category of lashon hara and he requires atonement. More than this — Even if he assumes from the beginning that no harm will come to him from his words, it is still forbidden to speak demeaningly of him.

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