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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Believe It or Not?

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q.I received an email from an old acquaintance. He described in detail how he is being exploited by a certain individual and asked for my help in pressuring the individual to do him justice. Can I help my acquaintance out in this way?

A. It is certainly a wonderful deed to help a person in need. The Torah emphasizes in many places the great sin of taking advantage of the vulnerable, and stating that G0d Himself will intervene on their behalf. For example, in the book of Exodus (22:21:23, Living Torah translation ) we find:


Do not mistreat a widow or an orphan. If you mistreat them, and they cry out to Me, I will hear their cry. I will [then] display My anger and kill you by the sword, so that your wives will be widows, and your children, orphans.


Certainly we should emulate His attributes.

But before you can try to help the oppressed, you have to verify the story. In this column we have discussed innumerable times the prohibition of speaking lashon hara, speaking ill of others unless the disclosure meets stringent conditions of accuracy, necessity and proportionality. This prohibition is learned from the Torah verse, "Don't go about as a talebearer among your people". (Leviticus 19:16.)

However, it is less well known that there is also a prohibition on receiving slander. In particular, when we hear someone making a damaging disclosure about someone else, we are forbidden to believe the story, again unless certain stringent conditions are fulfilled.

The Torah commands (Exodus 23:1): "Do not accept a false report. Do not join forces with a wicked person to be a corrupt witness." The Midrash Halacha (legal aphorisms from the time of the mishna deducing specific details of laws from the verses of the Torah) tells us:


This is an admonition not to accept lashon hara. Another explanation: It is an admonition to the judge not to hear one litigant unless the other litigant is present. (1)


The second explanation is what is familiarly known in legal jargon as "ex parte": a judge is forbidden to hear the claims of one side without the presence of the other side. This is true even if subsequently the other side is given the full opportunity to present the case; in order to rebut the other side it is necessary to know exactly what the judge has heard. This accepted rule in modern jurisprudence was accepted in Jewish law from at least the time of the Mechilta.

However, we see that the sages of the Talmud extended this meaning to apply also to an ordinary person. In fact, we find in many cases that Torah commandments applying to judges were extended in this way. For instance, the commandment to judge favorably, the prohibition on taking bribes and so on. There is a profound message in this extension. In our everyday lives we are constantly judging people; the rabbis teach us that this process is not a casual one but one of great significance. Every time we consider a person's acts, we should consider ourselves a judge and give the "defendant" the type of benefits that enlightened legal procedure would grant him. (The exact requirements are however not identical.)

In a strict judicial sense, the meaning of this commandment is that the story cannot be believed to the extent of acting upon it, unless it is properly verified. However, the Torah is not only a legal document but also a moral one. Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaKohen, author of the book Chafetz Chaim on the laws of slander, explains that the prohibition applies even to subjective belief. (2) We find in many places the Torah commands us regarding our inner beliefs; for example, we are commanded to love our neighbor and not to covet. Likewise, explains Rabbi HaKohen, we are ordered to consciously suspend judgment in this case pending appropriate verification.

Given the severity of the acts your acquaintance is asking of you, you would need a very high degree of certainty before taking action on his behalf would be justified. If you would like to help this person, you will have to invest some effort in clarifying the facts to the best of your ability, including giving the accused party an opportunity to present his side of the story and rebut details you have been provided. Until that time, you should satisfy yourself with providing emotional support to your distraught acquaintance.


SOURCES: (1) Mechilta DeRebbe Yishmael, Mishpatim (2) Chafetz Chaim Vol. I chapter 6 sections 1-2.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology.

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