I see a lot of my friends posting “status updates” about their parents, kids or spouses – anecdotes that are funny, but at times seem to be bordering on derogatory. Where is the line between sharing things with friends, or insulting your family or friends in public?
Your question deserves a very serious read. Many think that the current extreme popularity of social networking on the Internet demands instant updates about one’s self, family and friends. Even e-mail has created a situation that people precipitously hit the “Send” button, without giving sufficient thought to the long-term ramifications of their actions.
The Torah and Torah literature are quite explicit about the implications of what is termed “L’shon Ha-rah,” literally, “evil tongue” or “gossip.” By extension, there is the prohibition of “Re-khee-loot” (spreading rumors). Related to all this is the prohibition of “Halbanat Panim” (literally, “whitening the face”). This means causing public embarrassment to individuals.
All of the above are” issurim” (Torah prohibitions or transgressions). They are to be avoided at all costs. These prohibitions apply across the board; to all people in all circumstances alike, whether family, friends, acquaintances or strangers.
Just because everybody seems to be doing it, does not make it right.
A major, major work in Jewish religious literature is known as Shemirat Ha-Lashon by the Torah sage known as the Hafetz Hayim (Chofetz Chaim)—Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan Poupko of Radin, Poland (d. 1933). The impact of Rabbi Kagan Poupko’s book upon the Torah world has been profound and ever growing through the numerous translations and editions of his work on such gossiping and rumor spreading and the work of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.
Today, many follow daily readings in the Hafetz Hayim’s writings, even following a calendar in order to keep on track. Gossip is so pervasive in society, even among many in the fervently religious community, that every effort is necessary to keep people away from transgressing.
Social networking is to be seen as an extension of normal personal communication. Whatever is forbidden to do in person, is forbidden to do by telephone, in writing, on the Internet or in any other yet to be designed means of communication.
You yourself hinted at the line between permissible and impermissible sharing of anecdotes with the word “derogatory.” The 19th century rabbi, known as the Chafetz Chayim (Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan), defined lashon ha-ra as evil speech that is damaging or harmful to others; he considered both the speaker and the listener to be guilty of lashon ha-ra. If the status updates may cause your friend’s family members embarrassment or other damage, those ‘funny’ anecdotes are considered to be lashon ha-ra and should not be shared.
According to the Chafetz Chayim, the larger the group that hears the lashon ha-ra, the greater the severity of the wrongdoing that has been committed since the victims are degraded in the eyes of more people. When status updates about family members are posted on the internet, there are no limits to the number of people who may ‘hear’ those stories, making this form of lashon ha-ra especially severe. Moreover, a greater number of people will be guilty by ‘listening’ to this lashon ha-ra.
In the Chafetz Chayim’s work, “Sh’mirat Ha-Lashon” (“Guarding of the Tongue”), he enumerates 31 other possible commandments that are violated when one commits the transgression of lashon ha-ra. In the scenario you describe, there are at least two other commandments that may be violated:
#1: If your friend’s family members read copies of these ‘funny’ anecdotes online, your friend is also guilty of the transgression of onaat d’varim (verbal wrongdoing). According to the Babylonian Talmud, saying anything in a person’s presence that angers, insults, or shames him is a grave sin. Embarrassing someone in public is a particularly heinous form of verbal onaah, as the following two teachings convey: “If one shames another person in public, it as though he shed his blood.” and “Better for someone to throw himself into a fiery furnace than to publicly embarrass another person.” 
#2: When a person utters derogatory or damaging statements about his/her parents(“Honor your father and mother.”) When stories occur in the privacy of one’s home or in the private context of one’s family life, it is considered a breach of family trust and disrespectful to one’s parents to share these private anecdotes with others. A person who posts embarrassing stories about his family in his status updates is guilty of transgressing the 5th commandment as well as committing the sin of lashon ha-ra., he/she is also violating the 5th commandment, “Kabed et avicha v’et imecha”
 For example, embarrassment may lead to the damage of a person’s reputation. In some cases, that damage to the person’s reputation may lead to missed job opportunities which may, in turn, lead to financial loss.
 The biblical source of this transgression is “V'lo tonu ish et amito.” “And you shall not wrong one another.” (Leviticus 25:17)
 Bava Metzia 59a (Chapter 4) We learn this from Judah’s daughter-in-law, Tamar (Genesis 38:25). Judah unwillingly slept with Tamar, when she pretended to be a harlot in order to get Judah to fulfill his levirate marriage obligations. Subsequently, when it was discovered that Tamar had committed adultery, Judah ordered her to be burnt and only rescinded the order when she showed proof to him of his own complicity. Tamar did not step forward to publicly accuse Judah; she had to be found and brought out and only then did she bring forth the proof of Judah's wrongdoing. Tamar did not openly accuse Judah, choosing to die rather than to publicly shame her father-in-law.
 or about his/her other family members, which may also cause embarrassment or other damage to his parents
 There is a lenient position asserting that if the story took place in the presence of three or more people or if one of the subjects shared the story in the presence of three more people (apey t’lat) and no request was made to keep the story a secret, it is permitted to relate the story to others.
 i.e. about his parents or about his siblings or other family member, which, by extension, may cause shame or embarrassment to his parents
In Judaism there is a definite answer to this question with no ambiguity at all:
the very phraseology of ancient Jewish teaching , is very strong , very sensitive, particularly on the issue of the kind of personal hurt involved in insulting anyone in " public" (again, to employ the word which is used in founding rabbinic texts.)
Even when intended in good fun,a form of demeaning which even in private could cause psychic damage, when done in public, is considered to be, in ancient texts, a form of murder, "blood-shed". "The shedding of blood " is used for the act of insulting someone "among many/ in public" to indicate the seriousness of this insensitivity to the emotional wounding it causes. This can be a literal figure of speech because the suffering of such insult often makes a person go pale, the blood flowing from the face. We know that the rise of psychic and physical bullying among children and youth has resulted in actual suicide and yes, murder.
Eliezer Ha- Moadi in the Pirkei Avot (ch.3) teaches that insulting someone in public is of such a level of seriousness that even if the one who perpetrates it has done many good deeds and has studied and learned much Torah, he loses "his share in the world to come."
The ancient rabbis say that because it is the nature of the human condition that each of us inevitably experiences suffering in life (Tza-ar Baalei Chayyim), to do anything that thoughtlessly, gratuitously, needlessly, adds to that suffering rises to the level of sin. From this perspective, getting a laugh or showing ones cleverness at the expense of causing someone --- how much the more so members of our own family! --- inner hurt, a lot of shame, perhaps even permanent damage is an indication of barbarity. Throughout the generations it has been a part of the ethos of Jewish life for adults to teach their children, by precept and example, sensitivity to the "Tza-ar Baalei Chayyim, the first principle of any moral system: not to hurt!
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