Letter: It can’t be unheard

Were you ever the victim of Lashon Hara where people spread bad things about you or gave you a bad name? Sometimes complete slander?

Unfortunately, this year I was exposed to a handful of pitiful gossip that should have never happened and never been spread. I, of course did not want to believe what I had heard, but it is hard to unhear things.

One case included a family’s fate, where they were given a really bad name based on complete misinformation and broken telephone. I couldn’t understand why I kept hearing things that so did not fit this fine family. Until I uncovered that they unfortunately were being accused of things that had nothing to do with them at all. Suffice it to say, the damage was irreparable no matter how hard I tried to go back to the sources and tell them they had a terrible mistake on their hands.

But I write this letter in frustration about a completely different case.

Some time ago, someone told me about a terrible Rebbi that their child had. I don’t know what their son’s situation was and what exactly had gone on that year. But no matter how hard I tried not to believe the LH, I can’t help but admit I was afraid for my child to end up with this Rebbi.
And then the fateful day came, as my son came home the first day and told me that he had Rebbi X this year.

Now, I am very careful NEVER to let in to my kids if I have a concern about a teacher. Never a bad word about them ever. All my children ever hear from us as parents is that they are lucky to have the best teachers and best school. I think this is extremely important for chinuch and therefore I gave my son a thumbs up and big smile though my insides were a nervous wreck.

Will this Rebbi destroy my child? Is he as frightening and terrible as I had been told? (Truthfully I think the school is fantastic and on top of their game and I somewhat doubted them keeping such a Rebbi on staff if it were true, but the little fear did nag at me regardless.)

So I decided to let things roll and see how the days go by.

What can I say? My son comes home daily loving his Rebbi! He learns well from him. He loves the way he teaches. He has only praises so far.
I met the Rebbi as well at the parent back-to-school night, and all the descriptions I had been told… they just did not fit his persona whatsoever.
I honestly felt extremely comfortable with him, and all my fear from the slander melted away.

But it created an anger in its place. Not an anger in a bad way, but an anger that people can really ruin people’s lives by spreading their personal opinions about others.

Again, I don’t know what happened in that other child’s year that made it so bad that people had to hear about this Rebbi, but imagine if I too spread this information amongst other parents in the school and destroyed this Rebbi’s career when it very likely could have been a bad case of chemistry with one child.

We all have personal experiences that went rotten in life. Trust me, I have had my share.

But can we please take these עשרת ימי תשובה to realize that we may have gone too far to slander someone and destroy them based on a rotten experience or hearing misinformation.

Can we begin to realize that when we talk about other people in a negative way…we have their lives in our hands?

I beg you, please, think before you talk about other people.

And when you hear about others, whether teachers, neighbors, or anyone, remember there may be another side of a story or some broken telephone along the way and do whatever you can not to take any of it as fact.

Mrs. C.W.

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There are 8 Comments to "Letter: It can’t be unheard"

  • Couldnt agree more says:

    I have an old classmate I’m friendly with who has a couple of children older than mine in the same yeshiva. 2 or 3 times at the beginning of the year she would say good luck with that rebbi, or that rebbi is ok he is plain vanilla, or my son had hell with that rebbi…I have seen each time that bh we had amazing experiences with the rebbi and that likely the mommy may be the issue…but I too was guilty of internalizing and believing and being scared until over a few years I noticed the pattern…
    Granted, each child is diff and experiences differ but my boys are NOT easy, not teachers pet material and we were so happy BH

  • MeTo says:

    Everybody knows someone that suffered from “fake news” about them. Yet we still unquestionably believe what we hear. Being dan lkav zechus is not a frumkiet it is simple common sense, and it is also what Hashem says we should do. He said so, because he made us and He knows how flawed we are. So save yourself and those around you and don’t gobble up all the negitive you hear. Remember TODAY IT’S SOMEONE ELSE, TOMORROW IT WILL BE YOU.
    Gmar Chasimah Tovah

  • Parent says:

    A rebbi-talmid relationship is a shidduch and it can work for a lot of children and be a disaster for some.
    When it’s your child that is in a difficult situation it’s hard to stay objective…and that’s why we have shmiras halashon halachos.
    I once has a similar story. A friend of mine told me she was trying to have her son’s rebbi FIRED and i found out it was the same rebbi my son had a year before and was perfectly happy!(and my son was not an easy customer!) I was shocked to say the least!

  • Ilum Shem says:

    Chashdeihu v’chabdeihu
    (That is the lesson of Tzom Gedalia)

  • Jimmy says:

    A student did not do well in a Rebb’s class. One day, the boy’s Father gave that Rebbi a lift with the same student inside. When the boy saw how his Father treated the Rebbi with respect and honor, the boy’s attitude to the Rebbi changed so favorably, the Rebbi called the Father to report the good news. The Father did not understand the change until he remembered that he may have said something negative about the Rebbi before the term and the son overheard him..

  • My Take says:

    I have heard about families that had to move away because of slander about them. I know of someone sitting in prison because of a falsehood told about him. I have heard of children harming their own parents with sheker, causing a rift in the family where parents and children have nothing to do with each other. How can Yidden cause such harm to fellow Jews? It is shameful.

  • Anonymous says:

    I cant stress how true this is. This has happened to me from a very spiteful family member that is unwell emotionally. It caused me harm in many ways, diminished job prospects, guarded relationships with the other family members and a reputation with a few outsiders that is hurtful. Every outcome is in Hashems hands but the choice to slander is our very own. Please heed this and be careful.

  • Yedidia Elyon says:

    I also know if parents who were forced to flee lakewood because of their children’s motzi Shem rah. The kids are still on their high horse, though many who have examined their story critically have started to question its veracity. But you can’t make up the lost years, the lost funds, and the destruction of a family. Be careful!!!

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