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Clarification on Embarrassing

Question:

B”H
Kavod haRav,
Thank you for your help. Regarding the concept of not embarrassing someone: I was in a store, and there were two ladies helping me. As I was leaving, I noticed something one of the ladies was wearing and I complimented it. I then wondered if maybe I unintentionally made the other lady feel embarrassed or bad, and before leaving, found something to compliment the second lady on. My question: 1. If complimenting someone in a group of others (more than one on one), could this be considered embarrassing the ones not complimented according to halacha? (It goes without saying that there is zero intent to embarrass anyone, but I heard something like (I may have misunderstood this) if a person has something nice to say and they don’t say it, it could be like lashon hara…? So I find sometimes I end up saying a compliment as a way to protect myself from “saying lashon hara”, and then realize that due to my confusion, my yetzer hara just “landed a punch…”)
2. If a person can say a compliment, but for whatever reason, sees that it would be more comfortable to not speak (if they feel shy etc), may they remain silent without it being considered lashon hara? (As silence is often a praised mode of conduct)
Thank you sincerely

 

Answer:

From your question it seems that you are extremely sensitive to other’s people’s feeling! Under normal circumstances though, it isn’t considered an insult to one person if someone else is complimented, for something that they don’t have. I have never heard the idea that you are quoting “if a person has something nice to say and they don’t say it, it could be like lashon hara”. Lashon Hora is when a person speaks derogatorily about another person, but not saying a compliment is not at all transgressing this sin. Therefore you do not have to be concerned that you’re not complimenting someone was in any way a transgression of lashon hora.
As a side point there is an idea related to complimenting people and lashon hora. The Chofetz Chaim writes that a person should not compliment and talk the praises of a person in front of the person’s enemy. The reason is because while you are saying the person’s praises, it will cause the other person to say, “You think he is such a good person, do you know what he did to me…” and start talking lashon hora. This causing the other person to talk lashon hora is called “avak lashon hora”, lit. the dust of lashon hora. He does not say it in the context of not complimenting people.
Best wishes

 

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