I understand that to tell another person of someone’s weakness in halachah is lashon hara. However, I was recently describing my coworker to my husband. Everything I said was only in glowing terms.

Then, my husband asked about where she is from, her experience in this field, her background… Everything spoken was only positive, except at a certain point I expressed my confusion about exactly where she is holding. I said that she gives off a very frum impression, but on the other hand, she doesn’t cover her hair (she is married), so I concluded that I am not clear where she is holding.

Later, I wondered if that was considered lashon hara. Although it was not intended to portray her in a negative light, and we did not think of her any less because of that comment, was it lashon hara under the issur of discussing that someone is remiss in mitzvah observance?

Answer:

Mentioning that a woman does not cover her hair is not considered lashon hara, provided there is no intention to spread the negative trait of her not adibing by Torah laws.

The Chafetz Chaim rules that lashon hara is prohibited even mesiach lefi tumo, meaning that even when a person does not have intent of causing damage, or intent of slandering a person’s name, it remains prohibited to speak lashon hara about an individual. However, the prohibition does not apply to something that is already well-known, and has been publicised before many, although it remains prohibited to intentionally spread a negative or offensive trait (Rambam, Deos 7:5; see Chafetz Chaim, kelal 2, who cites the leniency in the name of “some say”). The fact of a woman’s not covering her hair is of course no secret, and therefore the “by the way” mention of it would not constitute lashon hara.

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