Is it possible to do real teshuva for speaking lashon horah and degrading someone’s honor?
That’s a very painful subject. Most poskim say that if you spoke against somebody, it’s your obligation to ask that person to forgive you. But the person doesn’t know that you spoke against him. It’s very painful to do that. That’s why you have to be very careful not to talk lashon horah.
Now, if you spoke lashon horah against a tzaddik, it’s true it’s a very big sin; שונא צדיק יאשמו – those who hate tzaddikim are held guilty, but the tzaddik will forgive you. Most likely every night before he goes to sleep he says הריני מוחל לכל מי שחטא כנגדי ואל יענש שום בר ישראל בסיבתי. He forgives those who sinned against him and he prays that nobody should be punished because of him. But don’t rely on that however. Don’t rely on it because before he says that, Hashem might take action.
But if you insult someone who’s not a tzaddik, he won’t forgive you. And then to tell a person what you did is a painful thing.
I heard – I’m not a posek; I’m just telling you what I heard – I heard many years ago from one authority that you shouldn’t tell a person because you’re going to hurt his feelings. You’ll hurt his feelings by telling him. One authority said that. But the others say, “No. You have to ask mechila.”
And I don’t know any way out of this except to watch out not to talk lashon horah. Because if you do, you’re up against this problem.
If you wait until a person dies, then it’s easier. You have to take a minyan out to his grave, fifty miles out of New York City, and you have to say in front of the ten Jews, “חטאתי לה’ אלקי ישראל – I sinned against Hashem and against this man here.” You have to admit your sin in public.
There was a man who sinned against somebody in Europe and he came to America. So he wrote a letter to Europe and he put in the envelope a lot of money and he asked somebody to take a minyan and go to the grave. He paid him. He had to pay everybody to go to the grave and the foreman who was in charge said a certain nusach in the presence of the minyan at the grave of the one he sinned against. It was an expensive sin.
The best way, however, is not to do such things in the first place.
TAPE # 675