Exception to the Rule

Exception to the Rule

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  • December 31, 2018

We have already seen that one may not believe even his spouse or close confidants when they relate negative information about others. At most, he may consider the possibility that the information might be true.

The Talmud states that one exception to this rule is where the listener considers the speaker to be a man of unusual integrity whose words are weighed very carefully. Such a person can be trusted to relate an incident exactly as it happened, to the extent that the listener can consider himself as having witnessed it, and thus may accept the report as fact. Nevertheless, since the decision that the speaker is trustworthy is a personal one made by the listener, he cannot pass the information on to others as if he had witnessed it – even for a constructive purpose.

The Chofetz Chaim is of the opinion that today no one can claim to have the degree of integrity necessary for his words to be accepted as fact, and it is therefore forbidden for anyone to believe a negative statement on the basis of someone else’s report.

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