I am reading a summary of the halachot in chafetz chaim that I found by the geniza (can't quite figure out who wrote it) which makes mention of the possibility for a rabbi to speak lashon hara to his students, or a parent to their children, in order to convince them to distance themselves from a person with bad character traits (middot). This has a feel of incompleteness to me and I am wondering what qualifications there are on this heter.

I am also wondering specifically whether a similar principle would apply to someone from whom the public learns (i.e. gedolim)?

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya. The body of your question is very different from the title. Please coordinate the two. It is unclear what your focus really is. BTW, the halachot of lashon hara was written by the Chafetz Chaim, Rav Kagan. You didn't read too much, either. Read more ;-)
    – DanF
    May 8, 2018 at 16:15
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    I know who wrote the Chafetz Chaim. This is a summary written by a different person. May 8, 2018 at 17:43
  • I'm not really sure how to coordinate the two, and feel like in reality I have a bunch of questions that shouldn't all be one question. May 8, 2018 at 17:43
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    If you have more than one question, you can always submit them separately. And if they are sufficiently related so as to justify placing them in the same post, you should at least spell out each question in the body of the post.
    – Alex
    May 8, 2018 at 18:05
  • @danf as the OP stated, it was not the Chafetz Chaim that they were reading. Second of all, his name was not Rav Kagan, but rather Rav Poupko. May 9, 2018 at 22:03

1 Answer 1


In addition to the qualifications @DanF pointed out, there are indeed some other qualifications mentioned in the passage to which you refer.

Chafetz Chayim - Laws of Malicious Speech 4:10

וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אִם רוֹאֶה אָדָם בִּאֶחָד מִדָּה מְגֻנָּה, כְּגוֹן: גַּאֲוָה אוֹ כַּעַס אוֹ שְׁאָרֵי מִדּוֹת רָעוֹת אוֹ שֶׁהוּא בַּטְלָן מִתּוֹרָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה, נָכוֹן לוֹ לְסַפֵּר דָּבָר זֶה לִבְנוֹ אוֹ לְתַלְמִידָיו וּלְהַזְהִירָם, שֶׁלֹּא יִתְחַבְּרוּ עִמּוֹ, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִלְמְדוּ מִמַּעֲשָׂיו, כִּי הָעִקָּר מַה שֶּׁהִזְהִירָה הַתּוֹרָה בְּלָשׁוֹן הָרָע, אֲפִלּוּ עַל אֱמֶת, הוּא אִם כַּוָּנָתוֹ לְבַזּוֹת אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ וְלִשְׂמֹחַ לִקְלוֹנוֹ, אבָל אִם כַּוָּנָתוֹ לִשְׁמֹר אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יִלְמֹד מִמַּעֲשָׂיו פָּשׁוּט דְּמֻתָּר וּמִצְּוָה נַמֵּי אִיכָּא גם כן יש. אַךְ בְּאֹפֶן זֶה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה נִרְאֶה, דְּמִצְוָה לְהַמְסַפֵּר לְבָאֵר הַטַּעַם, לָמָּה מְסַפֵּר בִּגְנוּתוֹ שֶׁל חֲבֵרוֹ, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִטְעֶה הַשּׁוֹמֵעַ לְהַתִּיר עַל יָדוֹ יוֹתֵר מִזֶּה, וְגַם שֶׁלֹּא יָבוֹא לִתְמֹהַ עָלָיו, שֶׁהוּא סוֹתֵר אֶת עַצְּמוֹ, כִּי פַּעַם יֹאמַר לוֹ, שֶׁאָסוּר לְסַפֵּר אֲפִלּוּ עַל אֱמֶת, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לְקַמָּן בִּכְלָל ט', שֶׁמִּצְוָה רַבָּה הִיא לְהַפְרִישׁ בָּנָיו הַקְּטַנִּים מִּזֶּה הֶעָוֹן, וְעַתָּה הוּא מְסַפֵּר בְּעַצְּמוֹ

Qualifications include. . .

  • The observation of the repulsive traits must have been firsthand (presumably so that one is very confident it is true).

  • One's intent must be purely defensive - on behalf of the recipient - and not derisive.

  • One must explain why one is giving the negative description, so that the recipient is not disillusioned or misled about the speaker's standards of speech.

There is no mention of an allowance for exaggeration or straying from the truth that I can see. Also note that there is no mention of a rabbi in this passage and it sounds like it would apply regardless of who the recipient and subject were.

(In the context however, the guidelines for correcting the mistakes of more or less receptive neighbors is detailed and would presumably apply here to restrict whom would be appropriate to direct such warnings at.)

  • An "outcome" of the last sentence is that one should limit publicity of the problem. Sadly, with all the available media and esp. with the speed and easy access of social media, people post something to their friend (a real one or a Facebook one.) It takes a few seconds for the wrong thing to spread out to millions!
    – DanF
    May 8, 2018 at 18:23
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    @WAF The quote from the Chafetz Chaim brought by WAF makes no mention of being permitted to EXAGGERATE Stories, which is what the original question was about. May 8, 2018 at 18:28
  • @RibbisRabbiAndMore Thanks for pointing that out. I got too lost in the question and forgot the title.
    – WAF
    May 8, 2018 at 18:36

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