Do not tell your friend words that were said against him
“Do not go about as a tale bearer amongst your people “Vayikra 19: 16
Although he speaks the truth this brings ruin to the world.
This is a great wrongdoing and causes murder amongst Jewish people, as we find regarding Doeg the Edomite.
There is a greater sin far worse than this, included in this prohibition and that is evil gossip.
This is speaking unfavourably about his fellow man, even though he tells the truth.
A person who speaks falsehood is called “one who spreads a bad report”
Evil gossip is when one says –
“a person did so and so “
these people were his forefathers
this is what I heard about him and
relating matters of disgrace.
Regarding this it says “God will cut off all unctuous lips, the tongue that speaks proud things” Psalms 12:4
The Sages taught for 3 transgressions punishment is exacted from a person in this world and he has no share in the world to come-
forbidden sexual relationships and
But evil gossip is equal in seriousness to them all! (Talmud Yerushalmi Peah)
Our Sages taught further that if someone relates evil gossip it is as though he denied the main principal of our faith (of one God)
They also said – Evil gossip kills three,
the one who said it,
the one who accepts it and
the one about whom it is told.
The one who accepts it is affected more than the one who tells it.
There are things that constitute a “shade of evil gossip”, for example –
“If only someone would tell so and so that he should always be as he is now”
Or if one says “don’t talk about so and so, I don’t want to tell you what happened to him”
Also if he speaks well of another person in front of someone who hates him because that makes the person speak unfavourably about him.
So to someone speaking evil by way of a joke.
And also if told in a way of cunning and deceit as if he does not know this matter is evil gossip.
It is all the same whether a person tells evil gossip in the others presence or absence.
Telling things that cause trouble if they are conveyed from one man to another,
that harm a person physically or his possessions or distressing or frightening him.
There is no need to say if one informs on his friend to the government and causes him to take his possessions; it is as though he killed him and his wife and children who depend on him.
The informer’s punishment will never cease.
This applies in all places at all times for men and women.