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Embarrassing someone to stop lashon hara or slander

Question:

Are you allowed to embarrass someone, if they publicly slandered and gossiped about someone and you want to rebuke the speaker in the same public fashion and put doubt in the mind of the audience? What takes precedence? I always try to steer clear of embarrassing people publicly. But is there an exception in a case like this?

 

Answer:

Thank you for your question.

If your words will be listened to and it won’t cause even more lashon hora, etc. by all means, you are required to speak up, and rebuke the speaker. Rebuke always has an element of embarrassment to it, however it is permitted to embarrass the person for his own benefit (l’toeles). If you see a person eating poison, and by screaming at him, it will get him to stop, you are obligated to save him from hurting himself. More so, because this person is hurting others, because they are listening to his lashon hora. Therefore, you are saving him from hurting himself and from hurting other people. It is important however to be sure that by you screaming at him, it will actually get him to stop, or at least get the other people not to believe him. However if your words will go unheeded, then you shouldn’t, say anything, because it will only make a bad situation worse.

Sources:

Chofetz Chaim Hilchos Loshson Hora Klal 6 Beer Mayim Chaim 9.

 

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