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Years ago someone at my shul spread lashon hara about me, specifically a story that was not true. At that time, some people at shul began treating me very coldly. To this day the cold shoulder continues from those individuals. At the time it happened, it seemed to me that speaking of it to anyone was more lashon hara; I never imagined I would still be dealing with the effects years afterwards.

According to halakhah, what is proper behavior for the victim of lashon hara?

  • Well I don't know what to do but Hashem always helps so davening might work – JediPythonClone Jul 17 '15 at 22:31
  • This is a good example of why Hazal compared lashon hara with murder. It is a one-way street. As @JediPythonClone has said, Tefila, tzedaka uteshuvah ma'avirin et ro'a hagzerah - Prayer, charity and repentance sweep away the decree of evil. – Epicentre Jul 19 '15 at 4:14
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    Assuming the shul has a respected and understanding Rabbi, perhaps he is the one to go to to try and address the issue with the fellow congregants. – Loewian Jul 19 '15 at 5:55
  • @Loewian Informing the rabbi is an interesting option except for one possible problem. Isn't that saying lashon hara about the people that originally said lashon hara? Unfortunately, the damage has been done. I think that one can either ignore those individuals, deal with them directly (there is a mitzvah of "hoche'ach tochiach") or, of course avoid them, completely, and attend a different shul. – DanF Jun 27 '16 at 21:49
  • @DanF The prohibitions against gossip don't include where the intention is a greater good, such as justice. (Otherwise, there would never be a concept of a court case.) – Loewian Jun 28 '16 at 2:51
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If the perpetrators ask you for forgiveness, as difficult as it must be, the best thing would be to forgive them, as Rambam writes the following in Hilkhot Teshuva (2:14):

לפי שאסור לאדם שיהיה אכזרי ולא יתפייס, אלא יהיה נוח לרצות וקשה לכעוס, ובשעה שמבקש ממנו החוטא למחול, מוחל בלבב שלם ובנפש חפצה; ואפילו הצר לו הרבה וחטא לו הרבה, לא ייקום וייטור.

Since it is forbidden for a person to be callous and not give in, but rather he should be easy to placate, and difficult to anger, and when the sinner asks for forgiveness, he should forgive wholeheartedly, and enthusiastically, and even if he caused you much pain and greatly violated you, one should not take revenge or bear a grudge.

Regarding the concern that discussing the issue with others in order to protect yourself from these false conceptions, there is no issue of l'shon hara, where there is a specific objective that the speech is meant to achieve, as in this case.

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