Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lashon HaRah: Repeating allegations from newspapers

Just received the following email from one of the readers of my blog:

I posted a comment to the article about rav berland and realized after that it had the email from the computer I was using.  I did not want that email address published because it was not mine. I do have a question. The article you put up was from Haaretz. There was no proof and no case. How could you post an article like that without it being lashon hora?  Thank you

I replied the following

The issue of lashon harah has already been discussed a number of times. Among the reasons that I publish it is 1) it is public knowledge already 2) there is a warning on the blog that comments on not necessarily true and must be further researched 3) Maharal states that something which is public knowledge if communicated in a way that you clearly are not concealing the transmission from the person being talked about is permitted 4) a person being a accused of such a crime is a possible danger to others and therefore it is necessary to warn others to at least be aware of the accusations.

You might also want to read Rabbi Menashe Klein's misguided and mistaken teshuva about not dealing with accusation of child abuse unless you have two witnesses as well as Rav Sternbuch's teshuva criticizing a principal who refuses to listen to accusations regarding teachers mistreating students because it is lashon harah.

here are some of the relevant links












Authorities that pasken that it is not lashon harah if it is public knowledge and you are publicly repeating the negative information






  1. I am not sure if you remember but I emailed you a while back regarding masturbation.
    The Rabbi Bernard scandal has deeply effected my yidishkiet.
    Rabbi Arush writes in his garden of emmuna book that "the wisdom in this book can be traced directly to rabbi berland's phenomenal teachings"
    the garden of emmunah has some terrible things to say about people that masturbate for example "hashem turns a deaf ear to that persons prayers"
    for some reason this book disturbed me more than all the classical sources.
    to be very brief a well known non Jewish sexologist told me to leave my strict religious community.
    I took the garden of emmuna with me to a frum psychologist, he looked at the book and said it is a difficult struggle but did not say the book was wrong.
    my point is that I really did take that book seriously, it really worried me.
    and now I see that the source of this great wisdom does what he does. what a sad twisted ironic joke! while I am busy stupidly worrying if a should even bother davening when Hashem is supposedly blocking his ears, the great holy rabbi is messing up lives. he should have rather masturbated!
    I am simply sick and tired of struggling with this.
    I really don't think that Hashem cares about masturbation! I personaly do not believe that Hashem is a cruel slave master.
    I know that my frum community would consider me a heretic, this has really worried me, but now I am not sure a want to be apart of that world.

    1. I don't understand this all or nothing attitude. What if a man has a taiva for food and he can't always remember to make a bracha before he eats? He tries his best but sometimes he's so hungry he has to stuff his mouth with food without a bracha. He should leave his community? He shouldn't be frum anymore? God hates him? Maybe God loves him and wants him to do tshuva. And, maybe God has patience and can wait for his teshuva if he isn't ready right now.

      If a father tells his son that he wants him to clean up his room, and the son doesn't want to do it, should he answer that he's not ready to do it right now and when he's ready he will do it, or should he say you're not my father and I'm leaving?

    2. maybe he doesn't need to leave his community but most certainly needs to leave his position as rav/rebbe.

  2. I hear where you are coming from Rabbi Eidenson. But it is answers like these that have led me to chuck the whole frum religious thing. You see you have come up with non objective (nogeah beavar) answers for your own personal gain and desires and fail to see the obvious flaws that others see. I find the same thing with so many in the frum community. people only seeing things from they're personal perspective and many times twisting thing to suit themselves, and failing to see obvious missteps.

    1. Have no idea what you are talking about - please try again. If you don't clarify it I will simply delete the comment which makes no sense as it stands.

  3. "If a father tells his son that he wants
    him to clean up his room, and the
    son does't't want to do it, should he
    answer that he's not ready to do it
    right now and when he's ready he
    will do it, or should he say you're
    not my father and I'm leaving?"

    The thing is I have been taught that if you do not want to clean you room or to give a more accurate analogy if your father wants you to do something that you believe you cant and should not do, that you father slams the door in your face, and will send his workers to torment your soul forever.

    Rabbi Eidensohn, I would appreciate your thoughts on a shortened correspondence I had a few years ago www.guardureyes.com/gue/rtwerski/Can'tStop.asp so Rabbi Twerski says its my addiction talking to me yet when a shared this with a non Jewish psychologist, as well as ucsb, which guardyoureyes quoted from out of context they both told me that in fact I was being very rational.
    I grew up reading Rabbi twerski's books and I really respected that gue organization, but the head of that organization could not accept me he would email me begging me to try stop and I would write to him begging him to understand my perspective. I yearned for that acceptance I really believed that gue was like a gatekeeper to Hashem if gue understood me then Hashem understood me, because they had the daas Torah. gue posted insane things to scare people like writing that porn might lead to becoming a serial killer, or a film called "the seal of truth" which made me, for the first time in my life feel angry at Hashem. to be honest my reaction was "how can he be so cruel"

    you see deep deep down in my nishoma, I know that Hashem loves me more then I love my self, I know that Hashem does not dismiss my thoughts and needs as my addiction talking to me. and I really want to strive and grow in yidishkiet. but it does seem that there really is no place in the orthodox wold for someone who thinks masturbation is a positive thing. but I really want to build a bais neeman beyisrael, I really do not want to take the advice of that renowned sexologist who told me to find a nice open minded reform girl.

    1. The thing is, if you go to a non-frum or non-Jewish Doctor or therapist for even a scrape on your knee, they will tell you that you need to stop being frum.
      "Doctor I keep getting migraines, what should I do?"
      "Eat treif and drive on Shabbos."
      "Sounds good to me."

  4. my point is" that it is very hard for people to see another view on an issue if they have they're own personal agenda that blinds them. I found during my many years being frum that people constantly twisted halacha and hashkafa to tailor they're desires. got me thinking that the whole thing, the whole orthodox mindset is really twisted. Which is what I thought of when I saw your post of how you are permitting yourself to publicly speak lashon horah. Please dont be offended its not only you, I find this over and over and over again in this frum religion. it just gets to my stomach. the fact that you dont understand what im talking about...just proves my point.

    1. Henry I think you need to look carefully in a mirror and repeat your accusations.

      You clearly have trouble distinguishing twisting halacha and hashkofa and applying it.

      If you could clearly explain the difference between "twisting" halacha and applying halacha - we might have what to talk about. As it is you are only providing your subjective judgment that something which I view as correctly understanding the paramters of halacha is "twisting" it.

      the fact that you use the absurd argument that if I don't understand you it proves your point. I don't understand your point because you have failed to communicate what it is.

      You come across as someone who has a lot of conversations in their head but rarely debate others directly.

      I am giving you a chance of presenting your views for public judgment. Perhaps you have something to say which will benefit the rest of us.

  5. Rabbi Eidenson could you please tell me your opinion. I believe that in theory ideally one should try not masturbate simply because it seems to be a halacha from the gemorah which we cant change. but I honestly believe that if chazal were around today they would not have prohibited masturbation. I view masturbation as positive healthy behaviour, do my views make me beyond the pale? should I seriously consider dating non observant or reform girls? over something as like this? I really hope not.

    1. Danny it is clear that masturbation is prohibited. It is also clear that even without the prohibition it is not a positive thing. It is not a rabbinic prohibition. Chazal were simply revealing that it is a prohibited act - but it is part of nature. In the same way if you jump off a roof you are harming yourself. Rav Moshe Feinstein has a teshuva on the matter and concludes that the Torah indicates that it is prohibited and harmful.

      If you were gay and your attention was directed to other men - would that impact your ability to have a good marriage with a woman?. Masturbation is a sexual relationship with yourself. It seriously impacts the nature of your relationship with a woman. With your attitude you obviously would continue masturbation after you get married and it iwll seriously damage or detract from the relationship you have with your wife. Your wife will be fully aware that you don't need her for sexual satisfaction. Whenever you have a disagreement with your wife - you would not need to apologize or correct the problem in order to get sexual pleasure. In essence what do you need a wife for?

      The gemora describes sexual relations as the peace maker between husband and wife. It is a very important factor in the health of a marriage.

      In short your views need to be corrected before you get married and not just for religious reasons.

    2. @DT, my understanding was that this is an issur d'Rabbanan.
      The story of Onan in the Torah is not about this particular act, but a form of contraception, whilst in a relationship with a levirate wife.
      I am not sure if my theory is accepted, but is it possible that the mitzvah of Halitzah was given at Sinai, in part, to prevent a repeat of the sin of Onan, by giving the unwilling man an option to not marry the widow?

    3. שו"ת אגרות משה אבן העזר חלק ג סימן יד

      ומש"כ כתר"ה זה לדעת כי איסור הוצאת זרע אינו משס"ה לאוין, כנראה מלשון זה שסובר כתר"ה שהוא רק מדרבנן, במחילה מכתר"ה שהוא טעות וח"ו לומר כן כי הוצאת זרע לבטלה הוא מדאורייתא וגם חייב מיתה ביד"ש כדא"ר יוחנן בנדה דף י"ג והוא איסור חמור מאד עד שאיתא בש"ע שעון זה חמור מכל עבירות שבתורה אף שלאו דוקא דהא איסור א"א ואיסור נדה חמור כדאיתא בב"ש סימן כ"ג סק"א מ"מ על איסור דרבנן לא היה שייך לומר לשון זה, והרי כל איסור ההרהור מקרא דונשמרת מכל דבר רע שדריש ר' פנחס בן יאיר בכתובות דף מ"ו הוא כדי שלא יבא לידי טומאה בלילה והיא דרשא גמורה ולא אסמכתא כדכתבו התוס' בע"ז דף כ', וא"כ כ"ש הוצאת הזרע שהוא בכלל לאו הזה. ומה שלא נמנה ממנין הלאוין אינו משום שאינו מדאורייתא דהרבה איסורים דאורייתא לא נמנו, ואולי משום שנאמר בזה עונש מיתה ולא אזהרה והלאו דונשמרת נאמר במחנה לכפילת איסור לא רק על הרהור אלא על עוד ענינים לא רצה הרמב"ם למנות בלאו מיוחד עיין בסה"מ במנין הל"ת שהוסיף הרמב"ן מצוה י"א. ומה שראה כתר"ה בפ"ת סק"ב בשם החת"ס שברשות הבעל מותר השחתת זרע, כנראה שלא ראה מה שאיירי שם דהוא באשה שיש לה סכנה להתעבר שאינו מתיר החת"ס אלא במוך שלאחר תשמיש שכתב שיש אולי להתיר אולם ברשות הבעל דאף דאיסור השחתת זרע ליכא אין לה עכ"פ רשות להשחית זרעו בלא רצונו מטעם שמשועבדת לו. ותמיהני איך כתב כתר"ה דברים כאלו שיש מקום לטעות להקל ח"ו באיסור חמור זה.

    4. Does this Teshuva mention the Sefer Chassidim, which claims it is d'rabbanan?

  6. I must say I am very surprised by your response I was asking you about the conflict I was having between the accepted chairiedi understanding and my own understanding.
    I assumed that you thought that non addictive masturbation does not negatively effect marriage. you do realize that modern psychology completely disagrees with you. I even spoke to a charidi psychologist who told me that I must not tell a shiduch about my masturbation, I thought that I should be open with the person that I would spend my life with, but he seemed to think there is no need to tell and that my masturbation is harmless. when I told him about my attitude he said I must rather speak to a rabbi as it is a religious issue. And I spoke to a modern orthodox psychologist who is extremely respected in the jewish and non jewish world and he told me that if I was not religious I would not be having this discussion with him.
    and by the way how do you just assume that I wont try not masturbate when i'm married? I actually will try not to then.
    I don't know how you can compare some one that is gay and married to someone that masturbates and is married. but it is interesting u should mention it, I know a gay person that is married, someone I work with, and I have seen how it is ruining his marriage.

    do you have any scientific sources for your views?
    Do you realize that just about every psychologist disagrees with you? just do a few google searches psychcentral.com/lib/2007/the-top-10-myths-behind-masturbation

    1. Danny I stand by my comments. Regarding the therapists you consulted and your understanding of modern psychology - it is true for someone who doesn't view it as something positive as you do.

      the conversations you report indicate to me that you have assumed a lot about what they were saying and why. Not telling a wife about your attitude towards masturbation indicates nothing about the sinfulness or unhealthy psychological nature of masturbation.

      the impression I get from you is that you really are not in touch with yourself. You seem very naive about marriage. You are idealistic and you think a lot - but unfortunately you are not getting realistic feedback and the therapists you consulted seem to have just been tossing out general information without clarifying whether you understood it the way they meant it.

      the fact that you are asking the questions on a blog also indicates to me that you are missing resources of family, friends and teachers. Your willingness to consider marrying non-religious girls also indicates your commitment to religion is not that strong.

      Bottom line - your questions sound strong warning bells concerning fundamental issues of identity and self-awareness and your need to become better integrated in the a community. Find yourself a rav and acquire good friends - and then get married.

  7. "Whenever
    you have a
    disagreement with
    your wife - you would
    not need to apologize
    or correct the problem
    in order to get sexual

    firstly it is not much of an apology if someone says sorry to get sexual pleasure i hope that when i get married please G-d, i will be able to apologize if i upset my wife with out needing sex to motivate me! their is something wrong in a marriage if some one apologizes for those reasons.

    more importantly i never ever said that masturbation is on the same level as sex with one's wife, you cant assume i think this just because i said masturbation is positive. ones's sexual relationship with ones wife is not like using your wife as a masturbation device.
    i have actually discussed these issues with my sister, she told me that she would understand if her husband masturbated when she was a niddah.

  8. I also have a confession. I enjoy doing something called pfeiffing or whistling. It is not as severe as the previous aveiro but sometimes when I argue with my wife i can just go and whistle on my own and not bother apologize. Should I also seek therapy?


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