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Rebuke/ lashon hara to’eles/ respecting elders

Question:

B”H
Kavod HaRav,
Thank you for your help. What, if any, obligation would a person have to rebuke an older person speaking lashon hara? If someone survived the war, and perhaps there is an emotional benefit for them to say over some of their challenges, even if that included stories about their struggle which may include lashon hara (though it may be lashon hara toeles…?), would I be obligated to do some sort of rebuke? If I was obligated, what should be said to both indicate I am not believing/ ok with the lashon hara, but I am compassionate to their pain…? I did do teshuva to HaShem for listening to the (maybe) lashon hara.
Thank you.

 

Answer:

In order to rebuke you first have to know if the person is capable and willing to listen to what you will say. If it is a parent relating his/her difficulties that happened during such trying times as World War II, it is very probable that your rebuking them will be taken very unkindly and you are not going to accomplish anything except for making animosity. Therefore, in this situation you most probably should not say anything.

Regarding listening and accepting the lashon hora, if the negative information was said in the middle of the conversation, and you can’t just get up and walk away, this is what you should do. First of all, make up in your mind that you are not going to believe what the person is telling you as fact, otherwise it is accepting the lashon hora. Secondly, you are not obligated to show that you don’t believe what the person is saying, although it is better to do so, like make a face, etc., in your situation that isn’t an option. Therefore, just sit there and don’t do anything that will encourage the person to continue speaking lashon hora, or show that you are happy in any way with what is being said. You can however sympathize with the person’s difficulty, but not with the lashon hora.

As a side point, if you can, change the conversation to something that isn’t lashon hora, which will save you from getting from this difficult situation.

Hashem should help you in every way.

Best wishes

Sources:

Chofetz Chaim Hilchos Lashon Hora 6-5

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