Secret Identity

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It seems that one of the anonymous bloggers is facing the threat of having his identity revealed. It appears to me that one is patently forbidden to reveal such a secret.

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 31a) relates the story of a student who told, twenty five years after the fact, a secret from the beis midrash. Rav Ami kicked him out of the beis midrash and announced that he is one who reveals secrets. As Rashi explains, revealing a secret falls under the category of lashon ha-ra. (Or, as some ammend Rashi, one who reveals a secret is considered a spreader of lashon ha-ra.)

Based on this Gemara, the Semag (prohibition 9), cited also by the Hagahos Maimoniyos (Hilkhos Dei’os 7:7), rules that if someone tells you explicitly that something is a secret, even if he told it to you in front of a large group, you are prohibited from revealing it.

Rabbenu Yonah writes in Sha’arei Teshuvah (3:225): “One is obligated to conceal a secret told him by his fellow even if there is no issue of talemongering in revealing the secret.”

Bottom line: “הולך רכיל מגלה סוד – A gossip goes about telling secrets” (Proverbs 11:13)

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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