Question:

Rabbi, Please help me with this situation. I was in a group spending time with co-workers and all of a sudden they started gossiping about other people working in the same company. I felt awkward, but couldn’t leave the conversation without looking weird. This also occurred when I was spending one-on-one time with a co-worker. I think I laughed or smiled because I was nervous, not due to wanting to gossip too. And may have said comments. Did I sin and do I need to ask the subject/s of the gossip forgiveness? Even though I didn’t start the gossip.

Answer:

If you were not mekabel the lashon hora, and even if you were mekabel the lashon hora, but you didn’t say it to anyone and the person spoken about was not negatively affected, you do not have to ask him forgiveness. This is because of a rule that when doing teshuva for a mitzvah bein adom l’chaveiro, we only have to ask him mechila if he was negetively affected, but here he wasn’t. Therefore, while you have to do regular teshuva, you don’t have to ask him forgiveness.

Best Wishes

Sources:

See Footnotes of Dirshu to Chofetz Chaim Hilchos Lashon Hora 6-12.

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