Is it permitted to say negative things about someone when the person spoken about says that he does not mind and does not care if people speak negatively about him?

  • Keep in mind that probably more often than not someone who 'doesn't care about it' in reality does, just doesn't want to make an issue about it. But for the sake of the question, let's assume the person really doesn't care about it. Given that assumption, I seem to recall that it is permitted. Sounds similar to a case of a person saying something before 3 people (which is NOT simply a blanket leniency, there are many caveats), since the person himself said it in a way where others will hear, one is allowed to repeat it. May 3, 2015 at 13:24
  • This question is very similar to this one May 4, 2015 at 23:12
  • And the answer is discussed here: shaalvim.co.il/torah/… May 4, 2015 at 23:19
  • @Eagle There's a difference between the backtick at the top of the keyboard and the apostrophe on the same key as the quotation mark. Is there something wrong with your keyboard?
    – DonielF
    Aug 28, 2016 at 13:49

2 Answers 2


See the Chafetz Chaim in Shmiras Halashon (חלק ב' פרק יח):

פָּרָשַׁת בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ ''וַתְּדַבֵּר מִרְיָם וְאַהֲרֹן בְּמֹשֶה עַל אוֹדוֹת'' וְגוֹ' {במדבר י''ב א'}. מִפָּרָשָׁה זוֹ אָנוּ לְמֵדִים כַּמָּה עִנְיָנִים: א. שֶׁאִסּוּרוֹ הוּא אֲפִלּוּ אִם הָאִישׁ שֶׁדִּבֵּר עָלָיו הוּא עָנָו וּשְׁפַל רוּחַ, וְאֵינוֹ מַקפִּיד עַל מַה שֶׁדּוֹבֵר עָלָיו [דִּלְפִיכָךְ נִסְמַךְ {שם ג'}: ''וְהָאִישׁ מֹשֶה עָנָו מְאֹד''].

Miriam spoke slander-lashon harah, about Moshe, and she was punished with tzaraas-leprosy.

The Chafetz Chaim writes that we learn from this episode that even regarding someone who is extremely humble and does not care what people say about him, nonetheless there is still a prohibition of slandering ie. lashon harah on such a person. For Moshe Rabbeinu was the most humble of all men and was surely not bothered, nevertheless Miriam was still punished with tzaraas.

The Chafetz Chaim supports this opinion with the words of the Rambam (טומאה צרעת טז-י):

הרי הוא אומר התבוננו מה אירע למרים הנביאה שדיברה באחיה שהיתה גדולה ממנו בשנים וגידלתו על ברכיה וסכנה בעצמה להצילו מן הים והיא לא דברה בגנותו אלא טעתה שהשותו לשאר נביאים והוא לא הקפיד על כל הדברים האלו שנאמר והאיש משה ענו מאד ואע''פ כן מיד נענשה בצרעת קל וחומר לבני אדם הרשעים הטפשים שמרבים לדבר גדולות ונפלאות.

Thus, we see that despite the fact that the person doesn't care that lashon harah is being spoken about them, nonetheless it is still prohibited.

  • 1
    I don't see how it follows that Moshe was so humble that he didn't mind Miriam spreading Lashon Hara about him. Does he have a classical source for his assertion?
    – Double AA
    May 3, 2015 at 15:18
  • 1
    @Double Rambam end of hilchos Tumaas Tzaraas, 16 10. Although, from the Yalkut it seems he did care, but his humility caused him to not stand up for his own respect, so Hashem did.
    – user6591
    May 3, 2015 at 16:26
  • @DoubleAA thank you user6591 here's the Rambam: והוא לא הקפיד על כל הדברים האלו שנאמר והאיש משה ענו מאד ואע''פ כן מיד נענשה בצרעת May 3, 2015 at 16:29
  • Ch.Ch. references this a few times. See for instance hil. Lashon hara klal 8 b.m.ch. 2.
    – user6591
    May 3, 2015 at 16:30
  • Doesn't the gemara (bshem r' yosi? in the 1st perek of yevamos?) say that anything one would say about somebody in front of them (presumably meaning that they would not be offended) would also be permitted to be said not in front of them(?)
    – Loewian
    May 3, 2015 at 16:43

You cannot really know if the other person minds; he might be saying he doesn't mind out of a desire to avoid conflict, for example. So let us first consider the case where we do actually know (as well as we can): can you say lashon hara about yourself? This question has been asked.

There is a famous story about the Chofetz Chayim saying this is forbidden. According to this answer, the Rav explains the prohibition thus (loose translation):

there's no novelty in saying that the Chofetz Chaim said that one cannot speak lashon hara about oneself (i.e. it's obviously prohibited), because after all, the whole concept of 'maris ayin' shows that a person doesn't have full jurisdiction over his own reputation to forgo it

You can't give up your reputation because it is not wholly yours to cede.

This answer also cites the Lubavicher Rebbe (6:1621) as forbidding it, saying that if it's forbidden to say it of others it's also forbidden to say it of yourself.

It seems to me that if you cannot say lashon hara about yourself, where you know the subject's intentions as well as any can be known, then surely you cannot say it about someone else, even if he says he doesn't mind.

  • Actually, I don't think that speaking badly about yourself is prohibited, necessarily. See May 4, 2015 at 22:33
  • @Matt aw, don't leave me hanging -- see what? :-) (I did see in your answer a link that casts some doubt on the Chafetz Chayim's stringency, but the quoted passage from the Rav seems stronger than that.) May 4, 2015 at 23:00
  • 1
    Sorry! I meant see Sefer Hafetz Haim lashon hara 2:13, where he almost explicitly permits speaking about someone who doesn't mind. I give a lot more weight to Sefer Hafetz Haim than to an interpretation of R. Soloveitchik that's so novel that every talmid chacham who I've ever spoken to about it (excepting R. Schachter and his students) has disagreed May 4, 2015 at 23:23
  • "You can't give up your reputation because it is not wholly yours to cede." That just inspired a PTIJ post. :D
    – Scimonster
    May 5, 2015 at 16:48

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