Author Topic: Random Halacha  (Read 900 times)

Offline mevinyavin

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Random Halacha
« on: November 23, 2022, 10:27:06 AM »
Halacha is eternal, all-encompassing, and applies everywhere. I know it is not always applicable to everyone who posts, but I get the impression that almost everyone here keeps halacha.
Posting relevant halacha here would be nice. I can use reminders myself, too. So I started thinking about halacha that may be relevant on a forum. Laws relevant to speech (Loshon Hora / Rechilus / Motzi Shem Ra / Onaas Devorim) are the easiest and most relevant so here is one way to be yotzei "Shoneh Halachos B'Chol Yom" today.
1. Any statement that causes pain to another constitutes Onaas Devorim. Any form of communication constitutes dibbur.
2. There are situations in which Onaas Devorim is waived. One example is the mitzva of Hocheach Tocheach - when one corrects another, one causes pain, but it is nevertheless permitted. Note that Malbin Pnei Chavero is not waived even for tochacha. In the case of a forum, it would depend on how anonymous the user is. For example, to embarrass Dan qualifies because everyone knows who he is. A random user who has given no clue to his identity would surely not be embarrassed if he was told off on a forum, though perhaps there are people he knows well who use the forum and he has given them enough clues. (For example, I have been using "Mevinyavin" with that exact spelling for twenty years. I assume anyone who knows me and sees my posts would know who I am.)
Relying on my memory, but this was all said this past Shabbos morning at Rav Berkovits's LH shiur before Shacharis. The examples as applicable to a forum are my own creation.
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Online Moshe Green

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2022, 12:04:18 PM »
The examples as applicable to a forum are my own creation.
The online forum changes everything.
Is it "embarrassing" to knock someone online? Is calling them out on something so wrong?
Everyone who uses the internet is doing so with the knowledge that there are billions (!) of people, of all stipes and types, which include but are not immitted to; anti-Semites, haters, trolls, teenage punks with way-too-much time on their hands, adults in their parents basements who also have too much time, and others who simply had a bad day and are ready to rip anyone apart who gets in their way. They go on a forum or chat knowing that there will be things that aren't what they would get in the local beis medrash. It may still not be good midos to do "onaas devarim" online but its a hard call to say one is being over on the lo sa'aseh.

Offline Randomex

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2022, 12:19:11 PM »
<snip> it's a hard call to say one is being over on the lo sa'aseh.

I find it a harder call to say that one is definitely not over the issur.
Is your argument that someone online expects negative communication and that this
anticipation completely eliminates the usual distress caused by such communication?
Who's this Billy Rubin guy and why is he counting these babies?

Online Moshe Green

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2022, 12:55:52 PM »
I find it a harder call to say that one is definitely not over the issur.
Is your argument that someone online expects negative communication and that this
anticipation completely eliminates the usual distress caused by such communication?
i am thinking 2 things:
a) an online comment is not considered a distressful word because the reader is choosing to read it (as opposed to going over to someone and blasting him to his face where he cannot choose not to get distressed
b) its al daas kein. you know that there will be people out there. if you enter the ring then your gonna get punched at.

Offline Randomex

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2022, 01:33:05 PM »
a) an online comment is not considered a distressful word because the reader is choosing to read it (as opposed to going over to someone and blasting him to his face where he cannot choose not to get distressed

1. Would you say the same about hanging up a sign where the person is likely to see it?
This sounds like placing a stumbling-block instead of tripping the guy yourself - still bad.

2. I think you'd have to be specifically informed that there is something negative about you in what you
are about to read for this to matter, and I also don't know if this would mean the writer was innocent,
seeing as it doesn't happen without them writing it.

b) its al daas kein. you know that there will be people out there. if you enter the ring then your gonna get punched at.

The existence of a prohibition against ona'as devarim implies that some people may be willing to hurt you verbally.
Does speaking to another person despite being thus informed mean that you have accepted this
possibility, and the prohibition thus would apply only when the offender initiates the interaction?

Who's this Billy Rubin guy and why is he counting these babies?

Offline mevinyavin

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2022, 02:47:41 PM »
I hope I didn't kick the hornet's nest, here...
Interestingly, Rabbi Berkovits did discuss this.
If LH is bein odom lachavero, it would appear that one can be mochel. There are also indeed situations in which the mechila is assumed. If one hands his book to a reviewer, he can get a negative or positive response - and there is no point in the positive ones if there are no negative ones. (Agav, the minhag in the Jewish publishing world appears to be almost exclusively positive reviews unless someone puts up pashkevilin.)
The problem is that Rabeinu Yonah says it is Bein Odom L'Atzmo...
R Berkovits says he heard from R Hillel Zaks that the Chofetz Chaim was mesupak if mechila helps at all. R Berkovits was only willing to allow it when the LH in question was derabonon, if it is not also lifnei iver because it really begs for a zinger. (Mechila does NOT help for lifnei iver.)

The problem here is that there is no explicit mechila. Moreover, knowing to expect that there are nasty people online doesn't give you the power to imagine exactly what they will come up with!
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Online Moshe Green

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2022, 04:23:38 PM »
I hope I didn't kick the hornet's nest, here...
Interestingly, Rabbi Berkovits did discuss this.
If LH is bein odom lachavero, it would appear that one can be mochel. There are also indeed situations in which the mechila is assumed. If one hands his book to a reviewer, he can get a negative or positive response - and there is no point in the positive ones if there are no negative ones. (Agav, the minhag in the Jewish publishing world appears to be almost exclusively positive reviews unless someone puts up pashkevilin.)
The problem is that Rabeinu Yonah says it is Bein Odom L'Atzmo...
R Berkovits says he heard from R Hillel Zaks that the Chofetz Chaim was mesupak if mechila helps at all. R Berkovits was only willing to allow it when the LH in question was derabonon, if it is not also lifnei iver because it really begs for a zinger. (Mechila does NOT help for lifnei iver.)

The problem here is that there is no explicit mechila. Moreover, knowing to expect that there are nasty people online doesn't give you the power to imagine exactly what they will come up with!
im not sure what loshon hara has to do with this conversation. we are dealing with onaas devarim.

Offline mevinyavin

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2022, 04:26:34 AM »
im not sure what loshon hara has to do with this conversation. we are dealing with onaas devarim.
True. But every onaas devorim is LH.
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Offline mevinyavin

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2022, 10:03:18 AM »
Today's halachos. (You can continue talking about yesterdays.)

In order to post a review online (which is definitely l'toeles), you still must fulfill the rules of toeles. Here are some potential issues to keep in mind:
1.   One’s words will cause damage to the person (which is included in the issur of Loshon Hora, and also the issur of Gorem Nezek Lechatchila), so the damage must be halachically warranted. If it is not (where the rules of toeles have not been accounted for), it is forbidden. [It is forbidden, at least lechatchila, even to cause damage to Akum.]
2.   One must be entirely factual, and not exaggerate even slightly. Thus, one must also avoid using opinionated negative words like terrible or awful.
3.   One must be motivated by the need to help others avoid the pain that one experienced, and not motivated by a desire for revenge.
4.   One must be absolutely certain that the assessment of the product or service is accurate. Believing that the product line as a whole is bad just because yours was defective is, to say the least, unscientific. If you have reason to believe that you will be one of the only ones rating the product, it would not be a good idea. Moreover, even if there are many negative reviews, one must consider the possibility that only those with bad experiences are posting reviews. (I would hope that any review readers consider this possibility, too!)
5.   Similarly, one must consider the possibility that people will see the negative feedback of a product to be reflected on the merchant. As with most cases of toeles, one must avoid causing more damage to the merchant than is warranted by halacha. Thus, one must be certain to state that the issue pertains to the product, and not to the merchant (if this is indeed the case).
6.   Regarding rating the product (such as giving it one or two stars out of five), one can rate it the amount that it deserves – but be sure to back up that rating with facts. I would hope that consumers understand that the rating is completely arbitrary (there are no rules that govern the rating, after all), and they would read the basis of the rating before coming to any conclusions.

Teshuva almost word for word from Rav Berkovits himself (I changed some "He"s to "one"s), this time. Printed in the back of Dovid Jaffe's sefer on Hilchos Loshon Hora, "What Can I Say Today?"
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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2022, 10:11:56 AM »

i think its important to mention in this thread that the halachos that are written here have huge machlokasim about them and that not everyone agrees with the conclusions that Rabbi Berkowitz states. Everyone should ask his/her LOR for guidance in these topics.
Here's a shiur that may interest people who want to know more about the topics mavenyavin is bringing up (includes Rabbi Berkowitz as well):
http://podcast.headlinesbook.com/e/62621%e2%80%93-shiur-328-%e2%80%93-ratings-on-amazon-and-other-online-platforms-%e2%80%93-are-they-permitted/


Offline mevinyavin

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2022, 10:36:15 AM »
i think its important to mention in this thread that the halachos that are written here have huge machlokasim about them and that not everyone agrees with the conclusions that Rabbi Berkowitz states. Everyone should ask his/her LOR for guidance in these topics.
Here's a shiur that may interest people who want to know more about the topics mavenyavin is bringing up (includes Rabbi Berkowitz as well):
http://podcast.headlinesbook.com/e/62621%e2%80%93-shiur-328-%e2%80%93-ratings-on-amazon-and-other-online-platforms-%e2%80%93-are-they-permitted/
How can I edit the top post to reflect this? You are correct, of course.
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Offline ckmk47

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2022, 11:18:47 AM »

How can I edit the top post to reflect this?
You can change or add to your post within 3 hours of posting it.

In the top right of the box with your post, click "modify".  Change as you please.  Then click "save".
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Offline mevinyavin

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2022, 11:34:31 AM »
within 3 hours of posting it.
And after?

6.   Regarding rating the product (such as giving it one or two stars out of five), one can rate it the amount that it deserves – but be sure to back up that rating with facts. I would hope that consumers understand that the rating is completely arbitrary (there are no rules that govern the rating, after all), and they would read the basis of the rating before coming to any conclusions.


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Offline ckmk47

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2022, 12:00:33 PM »
And after?
You're up a creek.
Probably can appeal to a moderator if you're desperate.  :D
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Offline mevinyavin

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2022, 01:12:49 PM »
Consulted with Rav Berkovits over Shabbos. He conceded that posting on a forum is asking for Onaas Devorim (provided that the culture of that particular forum has been shown to be such). Onaas Devorim is definitely bein odom lachavero and as such, one is being mochel by posting/reading the responses. However, one's responsibility to LH remains a machlokes Rishonim and a sofek in the Chofetz Chaim (as mentioned above), and any Onaas Devorim has the strong potential to be LH too.
Thanks to those who suggested the possibility, so I was motivated to look into it.
A Gutte voch!
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Offline imayid2

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #15 on: November 26, 2022, 09:57:00 PM »
However, one's responsibility to LH remains a machlokes Rishonim and a sofek in the Chofetz Chaim (as mentioned above), and any Onaas Devorim has the strong potential to be LH too.
Is there an issur L'H for saying something bad about an anonymous member of a forum?

Offline YitzyS

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #16 on: November 26, 2022, 10:35:57 PM »
I know this is not necessarily the right thread for this, but since the discussion is Lashon Harah, I figured I'll post here:

Someone asked me this question this Shabbos: What was the Heter for Yitzchok to say to Eisav, "בָּ֥א אָחִ֖יךָ בְּמִרְמָ֑ה וַיִּקַּ֖ח בִּרְכָתֶֽךָ". Why was it not Lashon Harah? If fact, Eisav now wanted to kill Yaakov!

Offline mevinyavin

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2022, 09:25:07 AM »
Is there an issur L'H for saying something bad about an anonymous member of a forum?

In the case of a forum, it would depend on how anonymous the user is. For example, to embarrass Dan qualifies because everyone knows who he is. A random user who has given no clue to his identity would surely not be embarrassed if he was told off on a forum, though perhaps there are people he knows well who use the forum and he has given them enough clues. (For example, I have been using "Mevinyavin" with that exact spelling for twenty years. I assume anyone who knows me and sees my posts would know who I am.)
In short: usually not, but maybe.
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Offline yfr bachur

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2022, 09:38:06 AM »
(For example, I have been using "Mevinyavin" with that exact spelling for twenty years. I assume anyone who knows me and sees my posts would know who I am.)

True. And welcome to DDF!
How you ever made it so long without joining us is a mystery.

Offline mevinyavin

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Re: Random Halacha
« Reply #19 on: November 29, 2022, 04:53:14 AM »
From the Rosh Chaburah in R' Berkovits's name:


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