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    Talk in the family – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. It has come to my attention that a member of the family is telling other relatives terrible things about me, and I am feeling very hurt. What should I do?

    gossip whisper talk lashon hara slanderA. Family dynamics are always a touchy subject and I hope the people to whom your relative passes on such comments can stand up for themselves and refuse to believe what is said, and indeed to suggest that the person who is talking to them should check their facts and reconsider the wisdom of purveying this gossip.

    The rule in Jewish ethics is that a person who utters slander hurts three people – the one about whom it is said, the one who hears it, and the one who says it (Talmud Arachin 15b).

    The question for you yourself is whether to get directly involved by confronting the one who is spreading the comments. This is probably not a smart thing to do because they are sure to deny any wrongdoing and/or to tell you what a terrible person you are for even suspecting that they would do such a thing. Unfortunately, as the sages say, slander can be worse than using a weapon against you: weapons hurt from nearby, whilst slander hurts from afar (Talmud Yerushalmi Pe’ah 1:1).

    Even if other members of the family try to handle the problem themselves the odds are that the air will remain a bit cloudy and restoring shalom bayit might take a long time or even never fully happen at all.

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