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LASHON HARA (Yerushalmi Peah Halachah 1 Daf 4b)

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(a)

(R. Yosi citing R. Yochanan): This person who speaks Lashon Hara will only speak if he denies (the existence of) Hash-m; as the pasuk states (Tehillim 12:5), "Who said, "With our tongue we will overpower; our lips are with us. Who is lord over us?"". All sins are against humans, but Lashon Hara also is against 'the Heavens', as the pasuk states (Tehillim 73:9), "They have set their mouth against Heaven, and their tongue walks through the earth."

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(b)

Source #2 (R. Yitzchak): (A person only speaks Lashon Hara when he denies) as the pasuk states (Tehillim 50:22), "Understand this now, you who forget Hash-m, lest I tear [you] to pieces, and there will be no one to save [you]"; and the earlier pasuk stated (Tehillim 12:5), "Who said, "With our tongue we will overpower; our lips are with us. Who is lord over us?"").

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(c)

(R. Yehoshua ben Levi): The pasuk there states (Tehillim 50:20), "You sit and talk against your brother; you slander your mother's son." And it says earlier (Tehillim 50:16), "But to the wicked man Hash-m said, 'For what reason do you tell My statutes, and bring up My covenant on Your mouth'?"

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(d)

Question: Where does the Torah warn against speaking Lashon Hara? The pasuk states (Devarim 23:10), "you shall beware of everything evil".

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(e)

(R. Ila): R. Yishmael taught in a Baraisa - (Vayikra 19:16), "Do not go as a talebearer in your nation" - this refers to telling Lashon Hara...

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(f)

Support (Baraisa - R. Nechemia): Do not go as a peddler, carrying (information) from this person to that person and back again.

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(g)

(R. Chanina): Come and see the severity of the 'dust' of Lashon Hara (making a statement that could lead to Lashon Hara and quarrels) - the Torah changed the text for the sake of peace between Avraham and Sarah, as the pasuk states (Bereishis 18:12), "And Sarah laughed within herself, saying, 'After I have become worn out, will I have smooth flesh? And also, my master {Avraham} is old.' But to Avraham it instead says (Bereishis 18:13), "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Is it really true that I will give birth, although I am old?'"

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(h)

(R. Shimon ben Gamliel): Come and see the severity of the dust of Lashon Hara - the Torah changed the text for the sake of peace between Yosef and his brothers, as the pasuk states (Bereishis 50:16), "So they commanded [messengers to go] to Yosef, to say, "Your father commanded [us] before his death, saying, 'So you shall say to Yosef, "Please, forgive now your brothers' transgression and their sin...", but we do not find that he had actually commanded them anything.

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(i)

(R. Shmuel bar Nachman citing R. Yonasan): It is permitted to speak Lashon Hara about people who are in an argument (in order to stop the argument), as Nasan HaNavi told Bas-Sheva that he will come after her to tell David that His son Adoniyah had snatched away the kingdom (instead of Shlomo), thereby giving the claim more importance, as the pasuk states (Melachim I 1:14), "and I shall come in after you and I shall complete your words."

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(j)

Question (R. Zeira to R. Yasa): Why was Adoniyah ben Chagis killed? Is it just because he wanted to marry Avishag the Shunamis (who had previously been his father David's companion although he did not actually marry her)?

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(k)

Answer (R. Yasa to R. Zeira): They were looking for an excuse to put to death those that created dispute i.e. Adoniyah. (Note: The Malbim in Melachim I 2:23 explains that Shlomo saw Adoniyah's attempt to marry Avishag as a form of treason, as he understood that Adoniyah would use this as a way of taking the throne from Shlomo).

(l)

Question (Students to R. Yochanan): What is Lashon Hara? If a person merely hints, but it is understood to be derogatory about someone, it is Lashon Hara.

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(m)

The linen sellers were told to come and work for the king for a day. There was a seller there called Bar Chovetz who did not join them. They asked, "What are we eating today?" One answered, "Cheese" {Chovtzah}. The king's men were reminded that Bar Chovetz had not come, so they demanded that he come. R. Yochanan commented, "That was Lashon Hara by hinting!"

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(n)

The Bulvatim (advisors/wealthy men) of Tziporin were gathered for the king's service. One called Yochanan didn't attend. One man said to another, "Don't we need to visit R. Yochanan today?" This reminded the king's men and they demanded that Yochanan come. R. Shimon ben Lakish commented, "That was Lashon Hara by hinting!"

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(o)

(R. Abba bar Kahana): In the generation of David, everyone were righteous, but because there were talebearers, they went out to war and fell.

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1.

This is the meaning of David's statement (Tehillim 57:5), "My soul is among lions; I lie among men who are aflame" - 'my soul is among lions' refers to Avner and Amsa who were lions in Torah (but did not protest Shaul); 'I lie among men who are aflame' refers to Doeg and Achitofel who pursued Lashon Hara; "people whose teeth are [like] spears and arrows" - these are the people of Ke'ilah, as the pasuk states (Shmuel I 23:11), "Will the citizens of Ke'ilah deliver me into his hand? Will Shaul come down..."; "and their tongue is [like] a sharp sword" - these are the Zifim, as the pasuk states (Tehillim 54:2), "When the Zifim came and said to Shaul, ("Isn't David hiding with us?)"".

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2.

It was then that David said to Hash-m, "Master of the worlds, why would Your Divine Presence descend to the earth? Remove it from amongst us!" This is the meaning of the pasuk (Tehillim 57:6), "Be exalted above the heavens, O God; over all the earth should be Your glory."

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(p)

But in the generation of Achav, they were idolaters but because they were not talebearers, they went out to war and were victorious.

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1.

This is the meaning of Ovadiyahu's statement to Eliyahu (Melachim I 18:13), "My master was surely told what I did when Izevel killed all the prophets of Hash-m. (I hid one hundred men of the prophets of Hash-m by fifty men in a cave), and provided them with bread and water." If bread, why water? And if water, why bread? Rather, it teaches that water was harder to bring than bread; and Eliyahu announced on Mount Carmel (pasuk 22), "I have remained a prophet to Hash-m by myself"; and all of the nation knew of this and they did not inform the king.

(q)

Why is Lashon Hara referred to as 'three'? Because it kills three people - the speaker, the listener and the victim, as occurred in the days of Shaul, that four people were killed - Doeg who spoke, Shaul who listened, Achimelech and Avner...

(r)

Question: Why was Avner killed?

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(s)

Answer: R. Yehoshua ben Levi and R. Shimon ben Lakish and the Rabbanan disagreed -

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1.

(R. Yehoshua ben Levi): Because for his own pleasure, he was happy for the blood of the youth to be spilled, as the pasuk states (Shmuel II 2:14), "And Avner said to Yoav, 'Let the boys get up now and play before us,' and Yoav said, 'Let them get up.'"

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2.

(R. Shimon ben Lakish): Because he put his name before the name of David, as the pasuk states (Shmuel II 3:12), "And Avner sent messengers to David from his place, saying, '[from Avner to David] to whom the land belongs,'" The Gemara expounds that (although the pasuk does not say this, he sent the words 'from Avner to David', meaning that) Avner mentioned his own name before the name of King David, which is a form of treason.

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3.

(Rabbanan): Because he did not allow Shaul to be appeased by David, as the pasuk states (Shmuel I 24:12), "{David said to Shaul} See now, my father, see the corner of your coat that is in my hand". Avner said to Shaul, "What does he want from the corner of your coat? It became caught in a thorn and was torn off and David found it!" But when they slept in a circle (see Shmuel I Chapter 26) and David took the spear and the water flask, David said to Avner that this time, Avner cannot explain his possession of the spear and the flask in the same way.

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4.

(Some say): Because he was able to protest Shaul's destruction of Nov, the town of the Kohanim, but he did not protest.

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(t)

The pasuk states (Tehillim 120:4), "Sharpened arrows of a mighty man with Resem coals." All weapons can only strike where they are, but arrows can strike far away. All coals die out outside and inside, but these (Resem coals), even when the outside appears to have died out, the inside has not died out. It once happened, that someone left Resem coals burning on Succos and he returned and found them still burning on Pesach.

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(u)

(R. Shimon ben Gamliel): They ask the snake, "Why do you walk and your tongue licks the earth?"

1.

(Snake): It was my tongue itself that caused it.

2.

(They ask): But what benefit do you have when you bite? A lion tears apart its prey and eats; a wolf tears apart and eats; but what benefit do you get?

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3.

(Snake): The pasuk states (Koheles 10:11), "If the snake bites, it is because it was not charmed (and there is no advantage to one who has a tongue)". If Heaven would not tell me to bite, I would not bite!

4.

(They ask): Why when you bite one limb, do all of the limbs feel it?

5.

(Snake): You are asking me? Ask the speaker of Lashon Hara - if he speaks here, it can kill in Rome. If he speaks in Rome, it can kill in Suria!

6.

(They ask): Why are you to be found between the piles of stones (lit. between the fences)?

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(Snake): I breached the fence of the world. (Since the snake caused Adam and Chava to sin, and breached the fence made by Hash-m not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, the snake was punished that it will be found between the fences.)