In the course of a day, the average person hears hundreds of pieces of information. As each one is digested, we are left to decide whether or not we choose to accept it as fact. And when it comes to loshon hora, many people find themselves inclined to believe what they hear.
In this segment, the Chofetz Chaim discusses a case where the listener knows firsthand that the facts which the speaker is relating are all true. The problem is that the speaker has chosen to interpret these facts in a negative way. Here the listener is obligated to fulfill the mitzvah of “Judge your fellow with righteousness” (Vayikra 19:15), and to interpret the facts in a positive light. If he fails to do so, then he has transgressed the mitzvah to judge others favorably, in addition to being guilty of accepting loshon hora.
The Chofetz Chaim offers the following example:
Reuven is walking down the street when he meets Shimon emerging from the local beis din (rabbinical court). Shimon is terribly agitated; he has just lost a din Torah (court case) involving a monetary dispute with Levi. Shimon waves the psak din (court ruling) at Reuven. “Did you ever hear something so ridiculous in all your life?” he shouts. “It was obvious that I deserved to win! These dayanim (judges) don’t know what they’re doing! Any other beis din would have seen things my way!”
If Reuven agrees with Shimon, he is guilty of not judging favorably and of accepting loshon hora. In this case, his sins are compounded by the fact that we are dealing with dayanim, who are accomplished Torah scholars.
What Reuven should do is try to convince Shimon that the dayanim have surely done their best to judge fairly and honestly. Furthermore, if in truth Shimon is correct and Levi has cheated him, then he should rest assured that Hashem has infinite methods at His disposal to make up the loss to him.
And what should Reuven tell himself if it appears to him that Shimon is right and the judges have erred? He should realize that without having been present at the din Torah, he cannot possibly know the full story. As such, it should not be too difficult for him to give the dayanim the benefit of the doubt.