Rumors are a terrible thing. Not only is the teller of the rumor guilty, but the persons who listens and believes the rumor is at fault as well.
To put it bluntly, G-d hates rumors. He says that he and the person who engages in spreading rumors cannot "live in the same world."
What if your job is to hire people for your company? You have a list of applicants and one of those applicants has been painted in a bad light by some rumors? What should you do?
Or maybe you have moved into a new neighborhood and the rumor mill has some bad things to say about the people who live next door to you? What then?
There is a story in the Bible that helps us learn how to deal with such things.
As the story goes, Abraham is sitting at the opening of his tent one hot evening. It was right before meal time and he's having a conversation with G-d. As he looks up, he sees three men in the distance, walking towards him on the road.
Abraham, being so excited to see some friendly faces, jumps up from his conversation with G-d and rushes away to greet his visitors. They sit in the shade of a tree and Abraham asks his servants to bring water to wash the traverler's feet.
Abraham hurried inside his tent and happily informed his wife, 'Guests have arrived! Quickly, bakes loaves of bread to feed them'.
Meanwhile Abraham ran to slaughter three tender calves. Of course, the three guests were not likely to eat up the meat of three whole calves. That would be way too much for them. He wanted each guest to have the most delicious part of the calf--the tongue. He therefore had three animals slaughtered to be able to serve each guest a whole tongue.
What Abraham didn't know is that these three men were actually angels. One angel was sent to heal Abraham who was having trouble healing from his recent circumcision. When he had healed Abraham, he returned to heaven.
The remaining two angels were going to the city of Sodom. What for? The Bible teaches that G-d had heard a rumor about the wickedness of the city of Sodom. So he was going to see for himself if the reports about the city were true.
Isn't this odd? Here we have an all-knowing, all-powerful G-d investigating to see if the rumors that have been brought to his attention are accurate.
Of course G-d knew whether what he had heard was true or not. He's G-d! He knows everything. But he does this to show us how we are to respond in such a situation. We are to never take a rumor at face value and not to make a decision without searching for the truth ourselves.
People say hateful and hurtful things about others all the time for numerous reasons. Most of the time, a person will point out the faults and flaws in others that they themselves suffer from. It's a form of misdirection.
People are often misunderstood. People are often mistaken about others. However, G-d put us on this earth to take care of each other. Let's keep this in mind the next time someone speaks ill of another.