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A Good Tongue Is Not A Numb Tongue And A Thought On "Bad Tongue"

What do you call a dentist in the army?

A drill sergeant.

Anyway, today I was at the dentist and as my tongue was numb I started to think about lashon hara.

I saw a very interesting question in the Sefer Mishnas Avraham [by Rav Avraham Price ztz"l - no relation to Bob Barker - even when he "was right"]. We know that it is forbidden to say something disparaging about someone else. "He is an idiot/ a fool/ a faker etc." Usually it is quite clearly lashon hara.

What about saying something about someone that is not negative but diminishes his importance. For example someone says "Reuvein is a genius." Is it permitted to say "Listen, Reuvein is a very smart guy but not a genius." Or, "Shimon is the nicest guy around." "Well, Shimon is really a super nice guy but not in the league of Levi who is much nicer." Is that lashon hara or "avak" lashon hara? [Obviously if there some to'eles then it is permitted.]

Rav Price doesn't resolve the question.

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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