Beit Midrash

  • Jewish Laws and Thoughts
  • Lashon Hara
To dedicate this lesson

Accepting Rejection


Rabbi Daniel Kirsch

Tevet 29 5780
David absentmindedly lifted the spoon out of his bowl of cornflakes, only to let it fall on the table, as his gaze reverted back to the ceiling. Apparently, the increasingly soggy cornflakes were doing a poor job of keeping his attention.
"Why!" David groaned, as he gripped the spoon again. "Am I worth less than Yitzchak and Dov? It would have been perfect if the yeshiva had accepted all three of us. Now Yitzchak and Dov will be together in yeshiva, and I’ll be on my own in some second-rate place."
A knock at the door drew David out of his ruminations. He looked up to see his friend, Shimi.
"David, are you still sitting there, thinking about how that yeshiva didn’t take you?" Shimi inquired.
"Why wouldn’t I be thinking about it?" David replied angrily. "Yitzchak, Dov and I had this perfect plan, to go to this great yeshiva together. Now the whole thing is ruined!"
Shimi was taken aback at how despondent David looked. He just looked so upset. Shimi racked his brain for some idea of how to make David feel better. Then it came to him.
"David, I don’t know why you’re so upset" Shimi began. "You think that yeshiva is so great. I happen to know some information that will make you very grateful that you’re not going there. There’s a group of boys there that’s really tough, even violent sometimes, to other boys in the yeshiva. And some of the teachers are terrible!"
"I had no idea!" David cut in. "Looks like getting rejected from there was the best thing that could have happened!"
Was Shimi allowed to speak lashon hara (gossip) about the yeshiva, in order to help David feel better about being rejected?
Answer of Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, shlita:
It was forbidden for Shimi to relate lashon hara about the yeshiva, in order to calm David.
It is true that it is written in Sefer Chafetz Chaim (klal 10, se’if 14, footnote) that it is possible that it is permitted for a person to tell his friend lashon hara about another, if the speaker’s intention is to dispel his own worry. Such speech is considered to be l’toelet (for a purpose), as our sages said, if a person has worry in his heart, he should discuss it with others.
Given this ruling, it would seem to be permitted for Shimi to speak lashon hara in order to calm David. However, this situation is different from the one mentioned by the Chafetz Chaim for two reasons:
Firstly, in the situation the Chafetz Chaim discusses, the speaker himself is disturbed by worry. In such a case, it would be permitted for him to discuss the matter of concern with a friend or psychologist. Otherwise, the matter is liable to damage his health. This is not the case regarding Shimi, who is not trying to alleviate his own worry, but, rather, is trying to help David feel better.
Secondly, in our case, Shimi does not have to say negative information about this yeshiva. It would be sufficient for him to tell David that there is another yeshiva which is better for David, and elaborate on the positive qualities of the second yeshiva.
(However, it is possible that it is permitted for Shimi to hint at negative information about the first yeshiva, in a way that would generally be considered avak lashon hara (lit. "the dust of lashon hara").
Summary: It was forbidden for Shimi to speak lashon hara about the yeshiva. Instead, Shimi should have said positive things about other yeshivot.
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