Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Secret Identity

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)

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