רבה בר רב הונא כל מילתא דמיתאמרא באפי תלתא לית בה משום לישנא בישא מ"ט חברך חברא אית ליה וחברא דחברך חברא אית ליה
i.e., Rabba bar Rav Huna says: Any matter that was said in the presence of three people does not have the status of malicious speech if one subsequently repeats it. What is the reason? The reason is that your friend has a friend, and your friend’s friend has a friend. Once the information has been stated in the presence of three people, it can be assumed that it will spread and become public knowledge, as each person will tell someone else.
כי אתא רב דימי אמר מאי דכתיב (משלי כז, יד) מברך רעהו בקול גדול בבוקר השכם קללה תחשב לו כגון דמיקלע לאושפיזא וטרחו קמיה שפיר למחר נפיק יתיב בשוקא ואמר רחמנא ניברכיה לפלניא דהכי טרח קמאי ושמעין אינשי ואזלין ואנסין ליה
The Gemara continues its discussion of good and bad speech. When Rav Dimi came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia he said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “He that blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him” (Proverbs 27:14)? For example, when one is invited to a host, and they look after him very well. The following day the guest goes out and sits in the marketplace and says: May the Merciful One bless so-and-so, as this is how well he looked after me. And all the people in the marketplace hear and go to this host and afflict him by expecting him to look after all of them in the same way, and he is compelled to spend his money on them. It turns out that the praise and blessing the guest lavished upon his host brought a curse upon him.
תני רב דימי אחוה דרב ספרא לעולם אל יספר אדם בטובתו של חבירו שמתוך טובתו בא לידי רעתו
Similarly, Rav Dimi, the brother of Rav Safra, teaches: A person should never speak about the goodness of another in the presence of others, as through speaking about his goodness he will come to speak about him in a derogatory manner, as he will eventually note the exceptions to his goodness, or his listeners will temper his praise by mentioning that individual’s bad qualities.
איכא דאמרי רב דימי אחוה דרב ספרא חלש על רב ספרא לשיולי ביה אמר להו תיתי לי דקיימי כל דאמר רבנן א"ל הא מי מקיימת לעולם אל יספר אדם בטובתו של חבירו שמתוך טובתו בא לידי גנותו אמר להו לא שמיעא לי ואי הוה שמיעא לי קיימתה
There are those who say that Rav Dimi did not actually make this statement himself. Rather, the following incident occurred: Rav Dimi, the brother of Rav Safra, was ill. Rav Safra went in to inquire about his condition. Rav Dimi said to those present: I have blessing and merit coming to me, as I have fulfilled all of the statements that the Sages say. Rav Safra said to him: But have you fulfilled the instruction of the Sages that a person should never speak about the goodness of another in the presence of others, as through speaking about his goodness he will come to speak about him in a derogatory manner? Rav Dimi said to them: I never heard this statement of the Sages, but had I heard it, I would have fulfilled it.
א"ר שמואל בר נחמני א"ר יוחנן על שבעה דברים נגעים באין על לשון הרע ועל שפיכות דמים ועל שבועת שוא ועל גילוי עריות ועל גסות הרוח ועל הגזל ועל צרות העין
§ Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani says that Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Leprous marks come and afflict a person for seven sinful matters: For malicious speech, for bloodshed, for an oath taken in vain, for forbidden sexual relations, for arrogance, for theft, and for stinginess.
על לשון הרע דכתיב (תהלים קא, ה) מלשני בסתר רעהו אותו אצמית
The Gemara explains the source for the claim that each of these seven sins is punishable with leprosy. For malicious speech one is punished, as it is written: “Whoever defames his neighbor in secret, I will destroy him; whoever is haughty of eye and proud of heart, I will not suffer him” (Psalms 101:5). The Gemara explained above (15b) that this is referring to leprosy.
על שפיכות דמים דכתיב (שמואל ב ג, כט) ואל יכרת מבית יואב זב ומצורע וגו'
For bloodshed, as it is written about Joab, as punishment for murdering Abner: “And let there not fail from the house of Joab a zav, or a leper, or that leans on a staff, or that falls by the sword, or that lacks bread” (II Samuel 3:29).
ועל שבועת שוא דכתיב (מלכים ב ה, כג) ויאמר נעמן הואל קח ככרים וכתי' (מלכים ב ה, כז) וצרעת נעמן תדבק בך וגו'
And for an oath taken in vain, as it is written: “And Naaman said: Be content [ho’el], take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garment, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bore them before him” (II Kings 5:23). The Sages maintain that the term ho’el indicates an oath, and that Naaman requested of Gehazi, to whom this was stated, to take an oath that Elisha had sent him to accept gifts, which Elisha had not done, and Gehazi took the oath. When Elisha found out what Gehazi had done he cursed him, and so it is written: “The leprosy of Naaman shall stick to you and to your children forever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow” (II Kings 5:27).
ועל גילוי עריות דכתיב (בראשית יב, יז) וינגע ה' את פרעה נגעים וגו'
And for forbidden sexual relations, as it is written: “And the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great afflictions because of Sarai, Abram’s wife” (Genesis 12:17).
ועל גסות הרוח דכתיב (דברי הימים ב כ״ו, טז) ובחזקתו גבה לבו עד להשחית וימעול בה' אלהיו (דברי הימים ב כ״ו, יט) והצרעת זרחה במצחו
And for arrogance, as it is written with regard to King Uzziah: “But when he was strong his heart became arrogant so that he did corruptly, and he trespassed against the Lord his God; for he went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense” (II Chronicles 26:16). And it states: “Then Uzziah was angry; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense; and while he was angry with the priests, the leprosy broke forth in his forehead” (II Chronicles 26:19).
ועל הגזל דכתיב (ויקרא יד, לו) וצוה הכהן ופנו את הבית תנא הוא כונס ממון שאינו שלו יבא הכהן ויפזר ממונו
And for theft, as it is written: “And the priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest go in to see the mark, that all that is in the house not become impure; and afterward the priest shall go in to see the house” (Leviticus 14:36). In explanation of this verse, the Sages taught: He gathered property that is not his, therefore let the priest come and scatter his property.
ועל צרות העין דכתיב (ויקרא יד, לה) ובא אשר לו הבית [וגו'] ותנא דבי ר' ישמעאל מי שמיוחד ביתו לו
And for stinginess, as it is written: “Then he that owns the house shall come and tell the priest, saying: There seems to me to be as it were a mark in the house” (Leviticus 14:35). And the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: The verse calls him the one who owns the house because it is referring to one who was stingy and treated his house as being exclusively his, and did not allow others to share his property.
איני והא אמר ר' ענני בר ששון למה נסמכה פרשת בגדי כהונה לפרשת קרבנות לומר לך מה קרבנות מכפרין אף בגדי כהונה מכפרין כתונת מכפרת על שפיכות דמים דכתיב (בראשית לז, לא) ויטבלו את הכתנת בדם מכנסים מכפרים על גילוי עריות דכתיב (שמות כח, מב) ועשה להם מכנסי בד לכסות בשר ערוה
The Gemara asks: Is that so? Doesn’t Rabbi Anani bar Sason say: Why was the passage in the Torah that discusses the priestly vestments (Leviticus 8) juxtaposed to the passage that discusses offerings (Leviticus, chapters 1–7)? To tell you that just as offerings atone, so too the priestly vestments atone. For what does each garment atone? The tunic [ketonet] atones for bloodshed, as it is written with regard to Joseph’s brothers after they plotted to kill him: “And they killed a goat, and dipped the coat [ketonet] in the blood” (Genesis 37:31). The trousers atone for forbidden sexual relations, as it is written with regard to the priestly vestments: “And you shall make them linen trousers to cover the flesh of their nakedness” (Exodus 28:42).
מצנפת מכפרת על גסי הרוח כדרבי חנינא דא"ר חנינא יבא דבר שבגובה ויכפר על מעשה גובה אבנט מכפרת על הרהור הלב אהיכא דאיתיה (דכתיב (שמות כח, לה) והיה על לב אהרן)
The mitre atones for the arrogant, in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Ḥanina, as Rabbi Ḥanina says: It is logical that an item placed at an elevation, i.e., on the head of a priest, shall come and atone for the matter of an elevated heart. The belt atones for thought of the heart. The Gemara elaborates: The belt atones for the sins occurring where it is situated, i.e., over the heart, as it is written: “And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Tummim; and it shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the Lord; and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the Lord continually” (Exodus 28:30).
חושן מכפר על הדינין דכתיב (שמות כח, טו) ועשית חושן משפט אפוד מכפר על עבודה זרה דכתיב (הושע ג, ד) אין אפוד ותרפים מעיל מכפר על לשון הרע אמר הקב"ה יבא דבר שבקול ויכפר על מעשה הקול
The breastplate of the High Priest atones for improper judgments, as it is written: “And you shall make a breastplate of judgment” (Exodus 28:15). The ephod of the High Priest atones for idol worship, as it is written: “And without ephod or teraphim” (Hosea 3:4), that is to say, when there is no ephod, the sin of teraphim, i.e., idol worship, is found. This indicates that if there is an ephod, there is no sin of idol worship. The robe of the High Priest atones for malicious speech, as the Holy One, Blessed be He says: Let an item that produces sound, i.e., the bells of the robe, come and atone for an act of malicious sound, i.e., malicious speech.
ציץ מכפר על מעשה עזי פנים כתיב הכא (שמות כח, לח) והיה על מצח אהרן וכתיב התם (ירמיהו ג, ג) ומצח אשה זונה היה לך
Finally, the frontplate of the High Priest atones for an act of brazenness. From where is this derived? Here, with regard to the frontplate, it is written: “And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead” (Exodus 28:38), and there, with regard to brazenness, it is written: “And you had a prostitute’s forehead” (Jeremiah 3:3). The statement of Rabbi Anani bar Sason indicates that the robe worn by the High Priest atones for malicious speech, which means that one is not punished by leprosy, as claimed by Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani.
לא קשיא הא דאהנו מעשיו הא דלא אהנו מעשיו אי אהנו מעשיו אתו נגעים עליה אי לא אהנו מעשיו מעיל מכפר
The Gemara answers: This is not difficult. Here, the statement of Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani is referring to a case where his actions were effective and caused damage. There, Rabbi Anani bar Sason is referring to a case where his actions were not effective. If his actions were effective and caused harm or quarrels, leprous marks come upon him as punishment. If his actions were not effective and did not cause any damage, the robe atones for his sin.
והא"ר סימון אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי שני דברים לא מצינו להם בקרבנות כפרה בדבר אחר מצינו להם כפרה שפיכות דמים ולשון הרע שפיכות דמים בעגלה ערופה
The Gemara asks: But doesn’t Rabbi Simon say that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: There are two matters for which we do not find atonement through offerings, but we find atonement for them through another matter, and they are: Bloodshed and malicious speech. With regard to bloodshed, its atonement comes from the heifer whose neck is broken. This is referring to a case where a murdered body is found but the murderer is unknown. In such an instance, the Torah mandates that the town nearest the body must break the neck of a heifer as atonement for the transgression (see Deuteronomy 21:1–9).
ולשון הרע בקטרת דתניא ר' חנינא למדנו לקטרת שמכפרת דכתיב (במדבר יז, יב) ויתן את הקטרת ויכפר על העם ותנא דבי רבי ישמעאל על מה קטרת מכפרת על לשון הרע אמר הקב"ה יבא דבר שבחשאי ויכפר על מעשה חשאי
And malicious speech is atoned for through incense, as Rabbi Ḥanina taught in a baraita: We have learned that incense atones, as it is written in the incident when the Israelites were afflicted with a plague for speaking slanderously against Moses and Aaron: “And he put on the incense, and made atonement for the people” (Numbers 17:12). And similarly, the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: For what does incense atone? For malicious speech. It is as though the Holy One, Blessed be He, says: Let an item that is sacrificed in private, i.e., the incense, which is burnt inside the Sanctuary, come and atone for an action generally performed in private, i.e., malicious speech.
קשיא שפיכות דמים אשפיכות דמים קשיא לשון הרע אלשון הרע
The Gemara notes the apparent contradictions: One statement concerning bloodshed is difficult, as it is contradicted by the other statement about bloodshed: According to Rabbi Anani bar Sason the tunic atones for bloodshed, whereas the baraita states that the heifer whose neck is broken atones for this sin. Furthermore, one statement concerning malicious speech is difficult, as it is contradicted by the other statement about malicious speech: Rabbi Anani bar Sason maintains that the robe atones for malicious speech, whereas according to the baraita it is the incense that atones for this transgression.
שפיכות דמים אשפיכות דמים לא קשיא הא דידיע מאן קטליה הא דלא ידיע מאן קטליה
The Gemara answers: The apparent contradiction between one statement about bloodshed and the other statement about bloodshed is not difficult, as this, the tunic, atones for bloodshed in a case where it is known who killed him, and that, the heifer, atones in a case where it is not known who killed him.
דידיע מאן קטליה בר קטלא הוא במזיד ולא אתרו ביה
The Gemara asks: If it is known who killed him, the murderer is deserving of death, and there is no atonement for the community until he is put to death, as the verse states: “And no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed within it, but by the blood of him that shed it” (Numbers 35:33). The Gemara responds: There are certain instances where it is impossible to put him to death, e.g., if he murdered intentionally but witnesses did not warn him beforehand of the consequences of committing murder. In such a case, the court may not put the murderer to death, as there is no punishment without prior warning.
לשון הרע אלשון הרע ל"ק הא בצינעא
The Gemara continues: With regard to the apparent contradiction between one statement dealing with malicious speech and the other statement about malicious speech, it is also not difficult, as this, the incense, atones for malicious speech spoken in private,