OUTLINES OF HALACHOS FROM THE DAF
Prepared by Rabbi P. Feldman
of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Yerushalayim
BAVA BASRA 164 (17 Shevat) - Dedicated by Mrs. Idelle Rudman in memory of Harav Reuven Moshe Rudman ben Harav Yosef Tuvia Rudman on his fourth Yahrzeit.
1) AVAK LASHON HA'RA
1. A tied Get was brought in front of Rebbi. He was
displeased. His son Shimon said 'I did not write it.
Yehudah the scribe wrote it.'
i. Rebbi: Do not speak Lashon ha'Ra!
2. Rebbi once praised a Sefer Tehilim. His son Shimon
said 'I did not write it. Yehudah the scribe wrote
i. Rebbi: Do not speak Lashon ha'Ra!
3. Question: Granted, it was Lashon ha'Ra to say that
Yehudah wrote the tied Get. Why was it Lashon ha'Ra
to say that he wrote the Sefer Tehilim?
4. Answer (Rav Dimi, brother of Rav Safra): One should
not speak favorably of another, lest this lead to
mention of his flaws.
5. (Rav Amram): Everyone transgressed Lashon ha'Ra
6. Objection: People do not speak Lashon ha'Ra every
7. Correction: Rather, they transgress Avak Lashon
8. Erchin 16a (Rav Dimi): "Mevarech Re'ehu b'Kol Gadol
ba'Boker Haskem Kelalah Techashev Lo" refers to one
who publicly blesses his host who toiled so much for
him. People hear this, and take his money.
9. Rav Dimi fell ill. He told Rav Safra 'I fulfilled
every mid'Rabanan law.'
10. Rav Safra: Did you fulfill not speaking highly of
Ploni, lest this lead to mention of his flaws?
11. Megilah 25b (Rav Ashi): One may praise a person
about whom good reports go out. He will be blessed
for doing so.
12. Yerushalmi Pe'ah (4b): How severe is Avak Lashon
ha'Ra! Verses falsified matters to make Shalom
between Avraham and Sarah, to cover up her amazement
that Avraham, who is old, will have a son. Verses
falsified matters to make Shalom between Yosef and
his brothers. They told him 'your father commanded
to forgive us', and we do not find that Yakov did
1. Rif (Shabbos 14a): "Mevarech Re'ehu b'Kol Gadol..."
refers to one who publicly blesses his host...
People hear this, and lodge with him. One should
never praise someone too much, lest he come to
mention his flaws.
i. Ran (DH v'Sham'ei): The host will be inundated
with guests until his money is consumed. If one
is praised, listeners will point out flaws.
2. Rambam (Hilchos De'os 7:4): Some things are
forbidden due to Avak Lashon ha'Ra. 'Who would have
said about Ploni that he would be like he is now',
or 'be quiet about Ploni. I don't want to say what
happened (with him).' Similarly, if one speaks
highly about Ploni in front of Son'av (people who
hate Ploni), this is Avak Lashon ha'Ra, for it
causes them to speak to his detriment. About such
matters it says "Mevarech Re'ehu b'Kol Gadol..."
ii. Rashi (Erchin 16a DH v'Sham'in): Powerful
people hear of the host's wealth, and take it
by force. If one is praised, the speaker or a
listener will point out a flaw in him.
i. Kesef Mishneh: The Rambam explains that
speaking highly about Ploni is forbidden in
front of people who hate him, for it causes
them to say 'this is not true. Rather, he has
this (bad) trait.' The Rambam implies that one
may speak well about someone in front of people
who love him.
3. Perush ha'Mishnayos (Avos 1:17): A Chacham once
praised a scribe in front of many people. The Rav
rebuked him for Lashon ha'Ra, for amidst the many
people some hate the scribe, and hearing his praise
will prompt them to mention his faults. This is the
ultimate distancing from Lashon ha'Ra.
ii. Hagahos Maimoniyos (5): Avos 2:8 proves that
one may speak well about someone in front of
people who love him. R. Yochanan ben Zakai used
to tell the praises of his Talmidim. However,
the Rashbam (164b DH Ba) explains that one
should not praise someone too much, for surely
he will come to mention his flaws.
iii. Note: Also Semag brought a proof from R.
Yochanan ben Zakai. This is no proof according
to the Chafetz Chayim (9:2 below, who permits
praising one established to be a Tzadik without
iv. Iyun Yakov (Erchin 16 Amos DH Tani): The Rambam
explains that one should not praise a host lest
others mention his flaws.
v. Emes l'Yakov (Bava Basra 164b), Minchas Chinuch
(236:1) and Pri Chodosh (Mayim Chayim, in
Likutim in Frankel Rambam): Bava Basra 164b
connotes that the Isur is not only in front of
Son'av. It is difficult to say that Rebbi hated
Yehudah due to the previous incident (of the
i. Note: The Chida (Bris Olam, on Sefer Chasidim
64) says that this answers for the Rambam.
Perhaps those who challenged the Rambam (above)
rejected this, for Rebbi thought that Shimon
wrote it, and he praised it in front of many)!
Perhaps Shimon was established to be a flawless
Tzadik (see below). However, the Rambam does
not bring this Heter!
4. Sha'arei Teshuvah (of R. Yonah, 3:226): Avak Lashon
ha'Ra is causing others to speak Lashon ha'Ra.
ii. Yad Eisan (in Likutim in Frankel Rambam): The
Rambam explains that the Isur is only in front
of Son'av, for Eruvin 18b permits to tell
someone's full praise in his absence.
i. Be'er Mayim Chayim (Chafetz Chayim Kelal
9)):4): Why do the Rambam and R. Yonah ignore
the Lav of Lifnei Iver? It is difficult to say
that they mean 'in addition to the Isur of
Lifnei Iver.' Perhaps they teach about when the
listeners would have spoken Lashon ha'Ra by
5. Sha'arei Teshuvah (ibid.): It is praiseworthy to
praise people. An Evil (scoffer) is one who never
praises people. However, one should praise Ploni
only when speaking to an individual, but not to a
Rabim, unless he knows that no one there hates or
envies Ploni. One may praise a person established to
be a Tzadik without any flaws, even in front of
Son'av and those who envy him, for they cannot speak
bad about him. They know that if they speak bad
about him, everyone will say 'you lie!'
6. Sha'arei Teshuvah (227,228): One may speak bad about
sinners to prevent others from doing so, but he must
beware lest he be suspected of Lashon ha'Ra. If he
brings himself to suspicion, this is Avak Lashon
ha'Ra. People might suspect that he did not first
tell the sinner, or that he lies. Therefore, if he
first openly rebuked him, or he is established to
speak only the truth and not to fear people, it is
i. Sefer Chasidim (64): One should not praise an
Ashir (wealthy person) in front of an Ashir,
nor a scribe in front of a scribe, etc. One may
praise one with Yir'as Shamayim in front of
Yir'ei Shamayim, for this will not cause envy.
Rather, he will want to act similarly.
ii. Pnei Moshe (Pe'ah 4b DH Kamah): What Sarah said
about Avraham was only Avak Lashon ha'Ra. It is
no detriment to say that he is old! Yosef's
brothers lied to him, for they feared lest he
accepted Avak Lashon ha'Ra about them, which
would cause him to remember what they did to
1. Magen Avraham (156:2): Examples of Avak Lashon ha'Ra
are 'who would have said about Ploni that he would
be like he is now', or 'be quiet. I don't want to
say what happened.' Also, speaking highly about
Ploni in front of people who hate Ploni, is Avak
Lashon ha'Ra, for it causes them to speak to his
detriment. Rashi explains that it is speaking too
highly about him, for surely he will come to mention
his detriment. This is difficult, for Rebbi praised
a Sefer Tehilim, his son Shimon said 'I did not
write it. Yehudah the scribe wrote it', and Rebbi
rebuked him for speaking Lashon ha'Ra!
2. Chafetz Chayim (9:1): It is Avak Lashon ha'Ra to
speak highly about Ploni in front of people who hate
Ploni, for it causes them to speak to his detriment.
The same applies to speaking too highly about him,
for then he is apt to speak to his detriment in the
end, e.g. 'except for this bad trait that he has.'
Or, the listeners will say 'why do you praise him so
much? He has this bad trait!'
i. Be'er Mayim Chayim (4): Therefore, if one knows
that Ploni dislikes the Rav or Beis Din of the
city, and he has a Din Torah, one may not ask
him afterwards what happened, for he is prone
to say bad things about the Beis Din. In our
many sins, many people resent the Beis Din due
to one ruling against them, therefore even if
one does not know that Ploni dislikes the Beis
Din, one should not ask him what the outcome
was. It is permitted only if the law is
relevant for the one who asks.
3. Chafetz Chayim (9:2): It is always forbidden to
praise Ploni in public, for normally some of them
hate or envy him, and they will mention his faults.
One may praise a person established to be a flawless
Tzadik, even in front of Son'av.
i. Be'er Mayim Chayim (7): One should not sit
among people praising even Gedolei ha'Dor, for
in the end they will come to Lashon ha'Ra.
Lashon ha'Ra about Gedolim is far more severe
than about a Stam Yisrael.
4. Chafetz Chayim (9:3): One may not praise Ploni in a
way that will cause a loss, e.g. to publicize
Ploni's generous hospitality. Through this, empty
people will gather to Ploni and consume his money.
One should not publicize that Ploni lent to him, for
this often causes evil people to gather to him, and
he cannot evade them. One must not bring himself to
be suspected of Lashon ha'Ra.
ii. Note: It is a Chidush that Gedolei Yisrael are
not established to be Tzadikim without any
LASHON HA'RA SAID IN FRONT OF THREE PEOPLE (Bava Basra 39)
Other Halachos relevant to this Daf:
LUSTFUL THOUGHTS (Yoma 29)
Index to Halachah Outlines for Maseches Bava Basra