Ethics

For the week ending 22 May 2010 / 8 Sivan 5770

If It Pays to Praise

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: I am aware that it is very wrong to speak about others in a negative manner. What is the rule about speaking about someone in a positive way. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: Although it would seem that there is nothing wrong with praising someone to others, our Talmudic sages ruled that even in regard to praise one must be careful.

One consideration is avoiding excessive praise since this inevitably invites a comment from a listener about the faults of that person.

Another consideration is ensuring that no one in your audience has negative feelings about the person you are praising, for then you will be guilty of enticing his enemy to counter your praise with criticism, in violation of the Torah comment to guard the tongue from speaking evil.

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