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  • Torah and Jewish Thought
  • Lashon Hara



Rabbi Jonathan Blass

1 Nisan 5766
Hi, I have a question about something that is greatly distressing to me and I would like to know what Jewish law says about it, if there is anything written about it or not. I am a very G-d fearing Jew. I was recently having a conversation with a friend who was raised Jewish but is an atheist. She explained her reasons for being an atheist and said she read the Torah and there were great inconsistensies and that she didn’t believe in "profanity" G-d who was so "profanity" vengeful etc etc. I listened and though I did not argue it is aware to her that I do not agree. However, as I am G-d fearing I am so terrified that I committed a sin by even listening to her and even sitting with her after she was finished and feel guilty for not up and leaving and walking away. I believe in free speech but I am terrified that now I will be punished for this. Am I crazy or did I committ a sin? Thank you
In general when you hear someone who is saying something bad (or see someone who is doing something wrong) - lashon hara, profanities, blasphemy etc. - you should protest and tell them that they should not speak (or act) in that way and explain why as persuasively as possible. This is part of the commandment to rebuke someone who is committing a sin to help him refrain in the future. If you are certain that your protests will do no good and may provoke even more of the same behavior that you are trying to stop you are not obligated to rebuke the sinner. In that case you should have gotten up and left unless you felt that hearing her out might allow you to respond sometime in the future. In that case, when you feel it might help, call her or write her to tell her how distressed her words made you and how wrong you think she was. I understand that you are shaken by the terrible language that you have heard and this is understandable.
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