Training Them Not to Report Abuse

Mighty oaks of concealment grow out of
tiny acorns of early loshon horah education.

Check out this page from Rabbi Zev Greenwald’s You Don’t Say! reissued  by Feldheim this year.

You Dont say loshon horah book

2001 edition

Notice how the theme of loshon horah plays to most kids’ aversion to snitching on their peers. In this case it is two Jewish boys and the gentile is a formidable distant palace guard, perhaps the closest thing to a Cossack in popular western imagery. Naturally they don’t show an abusive Jewish man. Also notice how the snitcher looks nastier and meaner than the kid being talked about. The artist is implying that snitching is probably mean-spirited and false.

Russian art universal silent lips gestureThis is bad loshon horah education, since loshon horah is reporting true but unflattering facts. Pardon me for being a stickler. But it sticks in my craw because the very people who often try to block reports of abuse by screaming loshon horah then malign victims with falsehoods, with real motzi shem rah.

Our Torah has great Jews and bad Jews, and even great Jews who sometimes do bad things, and sometimes show their greatness by confessing and repenting. In this make-believe world there are only good Jews and bad snitches.

With proper translation into popular vernacular this could be a manual for the Junior Mafia League.


14 thoughts on “Training Them Not to Report Abuse

  1. One of the biggest threats to the safety of our youth is the loshon hora campaign that misleads so many of our children, teens, and even young adults into thinking that telling someone something negative about another Jew is forbidden.

    Children need to be told that they MUST tell their parents what went on in yeshiva, camp, etc, what they think of their rebbe, etc, Kids need to talk about things and with guidance from their parents learn how to process information, form opinions, and the like, and they need to be taught, gradually, by their parents about laws of loshon hora–but for a child or teen, virtually everything is ‘ltoeles’! We need to realize that. This is how children need to be raised. They should not think they need to suppress or hide anything from their parents.

    They must be told: there are no secrets from parents!

      • The You Tube link is to the playlist for the entire program. The presentation by HaRav Gedalia Dov Schwartz, shlita, Av Beth Din of the Beth Din of America, and Rosh Beth Din of the Chicago Rabbinical Council, is the second video.

    • Under halacha there is no distinction between lashon hara to a Jew and to a non-Jew. Moreover, does this book at least complete the biblical verse about gossip which ends with lo saamod al dam reyachah (do not stand by idly on the blood of another)? Instead they mix in mesirah again without a clue that the prohibition of mesirah does not apply to people who are uncontrollably harmful to the community (or not at all in modern “rule of law” societies” according to the Aruch Hashulchan).

      Incidentally, the chofetz chaim recognized he was pushing the boundaries of halachah in putting ethically derived ideals into halachic form when he wrote about shmiras halashcon (care of speech). That is why he did not include the stuff into his Mishnah Brurah (a Jewish law compendium).

      • Alright I’m saying I don’t think the author did it on purpose as I thought u suggested. Which probably indicates that it’s an even bigger problem.

  2. Actually the boy with red hair performed an act of civil disobedience, and the Queen’s Guard man cuffed the kid; his friend is demanding his release. So stop all this slander against the kid with black hair, already!

  3. We will understand these issues better, I think, when we acknowledge that the proper mode of analysis is essentially political. While there are obviously ethical dimensions to matters of proper speech, the modern codification of “lashon ha-r’a” — much of which is irrelevant to the Talmudic definition and in large part wasn’t even introduced into discussion of rabbinic law until the late 19th century — makes no sense apart from the determination of rabbinic authorities to control the topics and nature of controversy. The Hofetz Haim himself wrote pretty clearly that the reason he had expanded so much on the subject was his concern about rivalry between Orthodox factions, which he felt injured Orthodoxy in its battle with Reform. It’s no accident that he carefully carved out a huge exception to his general rules in order to license attacks on “heretics”; statements of that kind, he wrote, were not only permitted but obligatory.

    There’s much more to say about this than can be fit into a blog posting, but I think it’s clear that the enormous scope and popularity of the “lashon ha-r’a” campaign reflect its political significance to rabbinic elites. And this particular case is a perfect example of how it works. Report a crime to a policeman — go to hell. Okay? Obviously, as a formulation of Jewish law this claim is outrageous, both logically and morally, but it slips under the radar as long as it’s couched in the language of a children’s book on “proper speech.” Now, how many prominent rabbis do you suppose are going to criticize such a gross and dangerous misstatement? That’s the real question. And if the answer is what I think it is, that only underscores the political nature of the issue.

    • This is very interesting, and sounds very true. I would like to see a paper of some sort on this, with references. If anyone is learned enough to research this idea and write a paper on it, it would be a great resource to those fighting for truth and justice.

  4. The emphasis on lashon harah is readily understandable in the context of (some) Orthodox and basically all Haredi and Hasidic Jews’ desire to live as totally apart from the society amidst which they live as possible short of refusing monetary benefits. The rules of Kashrut, followed to an extreme by these groups, serve the same purpose. Never eat with them, never report crimes to them (no matter that your six your old boy was just anally violated by his rebbe)….sickening! There are other non-Jewish sects that are the same way, certainly. Purest evil.

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