Sefer Chofetz Chaim hilchos rechilus chapter 9 footnote 17

The Chofetz Chaim said that if the employer would immediately act, for example fire the guy he just hired if you tell him he is a thief, instead of just being cautious and keeping a good eye on him then you can’t tell the employer, even if the employee might harm him in some way. The Chofetz Chaim brings several proofs that a single person cannot testify or tell the other person if unlawful action will be taken.

1. Krisos 12a: If 2 witnesses say a kohen for example became tamei and he himself says he didn’t he can eat tahor food like teruma in private but not in public and he can only feed himself the teruma but not others because for himself he is believed to say he is tahor but for other and in the eyes of others he ia considered tamei since there are two witnesses against him. Even if others don’t know there are two witnesses he still can’t feed them teruma or eat it with others even though he k knows the truth that he is there since there are witnesses out there that testified he is tamei. Then they won’t accept his testimony that he is tahor. So too, in our cases even if you know this guy is a thief since you can’t do anything in a Jewish court beside making the thief take an oath therefore your words are useless for the employer to take any actions against the would-be thief.

2. Shevuos 30b: If a witness knows that the other witness testifying with him is a thief and is invalid to testify with him, even though if they would testify together the court would accept their testimony because they don’t know that one of the witnesses is a thief, he still can’t testify with him because he knows his friend is invalid to testify and the court would be extracting money based on their testimony unlawfully according to his knowledge since in reality there is only one witness. Certainly, in our case you can’t tell the employer, acting as one witness, if he will take matters into his own hands. Even if what you say is true. Since it would be unlawful to fire the employee based on one witness.

3. Bava Kamma 113b: Rava put a Jew in excommunication for testifying against another Jew as a single witness in a non-Jewish court causing him to pay a non-Jew money. The gemara says if he would have testified with someone else he would not have been excommunicated. It’s clear from this last point that the problem wasn’t that he testified in a non-Jewish court which is only permissible since one of the litigants is not Jewish, and the problem also wasn’t that he testified for a non-Jew to get money from a Jew because then it would make no difference whether he was one witness or with someone else testifying, either way he should have been excommunicated. Rather it must be that he was excommunicated for testifying as a single witness, that if he would have been in a Jewish court, they would not have accepted his testimony therefore he halachachically caused his flow Jew to lose money unlawfully, even if the Jew really did owe the non-Jew the money. So to in our cases, whether it’s a hired maid, a business partner, a shidduch, etc. If you are a single witness and the person you tell will act rashly and not just be concerned do research and be cautious then you can’t tell him lest he takes actions into his own hands and does something uncalled for according to halacha since it would bot have been handled in that way in a Jewish court.

Sefer Chofetz Chaim hilchos rechilus chapter 9 halacha 5

Until now we discussed speaking out to avoid a potentially bad situation from happening. Meaning, if a person was not hired yet, or there was not yet an engagement, certainly now wedding. But what if the suspicious guy started working, became partners, or even a contract was just signed as an official agreement to start or the like then can you still speak out or is it too late? Before there is any agreement or they started it’s not considered causing a loss to potential worker, nothing happened yet but now that there is a contract signed or he started working, whichever the case might be it’s very hard to just break the contract or fire him because that would look very bad for him and change a lot in his life. And the 5th condition to be able to speak is that you can’t do worse to the person than what he deserves in court. Therefore, if you know you can tell the guy’s boss and he will not trust you immediately or is not rash to make decisions and would fire the guy on the spot, but rather he would just keep a close eye on him to ensure nothing goes wrong then you can tell him and it’s even the correct thing to do. But if he will immediately take action then you can’t say a word because what you say would not hold up in court since you are only one witness. If you are two witnesses who actually saw him steal, for example, and all 5 conditions are met, then you can tell the employer and he can fire the guy if he likes because that is what would have happened in court as well. But if you both heard it second hand or even one saw him steal and the other knew it second hand then the testimony would not hold up in court so you can’t tell the employer if he will take action and not just keep a close eye on his employee.

Sefer Chofetz Chaim hilchos rechilus chapter 9 halacha 3,4

 If you hear someone say I am going to beat so and so up, or curse him out or embarrass him, then you have to ascertain whether he’s being serious or just making baseless threats. If he has a track record of following through with his threats, then you should inform the would-be victim to take proper precautions to protect himself. Or even if you see that this time, he means business then you can tell. But this is only if you have tried to rebuke the angry person beforehand or appease him so that he will calm down and decide not to hurt the person he is angry with. If it works, then you have fulfilled the mitzvah of rebuke bringing peace among people. However, if the rebuke does not work or you see it will not work then you’ll have to tell the would-be victim.

 However, if you see that by telling the would-be victim won’t just take precautions, but he will go and attack his would be threat then you can’t tell him because you are just ensuing a fight not resolving it.

The reason why you should try to rebuke first in this case is because the person is just angry and he just needs to calm down, of course if you think he’ll calm down but hurt the other guy anyways then you have to warn the other guy but that’s only if the angry person is known to follow through with threats even after he calms down. The reason why we said earlier by hiring the person who is a thief or the like that there is no reason to rebuke, is because for a long-term relationship as a job hiring, we can’t trust that even if he says he changed if it would stay that way. But in this case rebuke or appeasing is warranted to calm down the anger so that he won’t go through with the threat he is saying he will do, it’s clear and present danger which can be avoided by talking to him if it works.

Even if you hear secondhand knowledge of a physical, monetary, or psychological threat one should tell the possible victim, of course with the non-confidence that we had spoken about earlier, just to ensure that he will protect himself.

 Unlike by Gedalia ben Achikam who did not take Yochanan ben Kerech seriously that Yishmael ben Natanya would kill him. That was a problem on a couple of fronts. First off in regard to a life-threatening issue one should take any threat seriously even if it is a farfetched concern. Secondly, Yochanan ben Kerech recognized that Yishmael was being serious, and if there is recognizable evidence you can’t have the excuse that he might be exaggerating, therefore Gedalia should have heeded to the warning and that is why he died and there is now a fast called Tzom Gedalia.

Sefer Chofetz Chaim Hilchos Rechilus chapter 9 halacha 2 conclusion of footnote 9

It’s obvious that if you don’t personally know, for example the maid, that she is a thief, or any other example of the like, rather people just told you, even though we said you can tell the would be hirer so that he can protect himself, however you can’t just say plainly “so and so is a thief” looking as if you know yourself this fact. You can’t even say “I have heard that son and so is a thief” because many people, not being experts in the laws of accepting rechilus will take it as fact. Rather you should be as non-confident as possible and say, “I heard about so and so this and this, and maybe the matter is true, therefore t would be appropriate for you to be cautious and protect yourself from her.” This non-confidence is the way to act in all circumstances of the like to protect others besides a person looking to hire a teacher or looking for a shidduch and the he or she is rumored to have fundamental flaws in his or her Torah perspectives, philosophies or beliefs (not observance), which could be serious red flags, then you can just say with more confidence “I heard…”

The reason why rebuking the perpetrator beforehand is not on the list of conditions as it was by lashon hara is because it’s not applicable here. One is looking to hire someone else. It doesn’t make sense to first rebuke the would-be candidate before definitely deciding to go to the hirer to warn him the candidate s a thief because even if he promises he will change who says that is true, the hirer still has a right to protect himself and know what he is getting into. Whereas by the laws of lashon hara, one should first go over to the thief and rebuke him because that was in order to get the thief to give back what he stole without needing to tell the victim what happened.

Sefer Chofetz Chaim hilchos rechilus chapter 9 footnote 9

This 5th condition that you cannot harm the would-be perpetrator any more than what he deserves is a very tricky condition which the Chofetz Chaim himself is very hesitant in what to do but bottom line one has to divulge information in a fashion which will be a balance for both parties. That the wouks be victim can take proper precautions and the would-be threat won’t be overly damaged than what he or she deserves. For example, If Reuvain wants to hire Shimon for a job and Levi knows Shimon stole something at one point. Levi has to tell Reuvain the information he knows even if Shimon regrets what he did and wouldn’t do it again, but Reuvain has a right to be concerned and investigate the matter. However, if Levi can determine that by telling Reuvain about Shimon the word will get out and Shimon will be run out of town in shame then Levi really shouldn’t tell Reuvain the information. In this case as opposed to lashon hara, one does not need to have seen the stealing happen first hand, or even know for sure that it happened, as long as there is rumors you are allowed to tell a would be victim to be cautious himself just as you yourself can just be cautious with this information as long as you know he will only take proper precautions to quietly investigate the matter and make proper decisions to just protect himself from any harm. Just as a side note, even though there is a specific mitzvah of “lo sa’amod al dam re’echa” don’t stand by when your fellow Jew is in danger that is only when you definitely know of the potential danger, and you can help. But if it is just a rumor then it’s a good thing, a general mitzvah, to be concerned about and take proper precautions. So Gedalia ben Achikam, the mayor of Beitar that refused to accept lashon hara and wasn’t even cautious and that is why Beitar was destroyed, and we have Tzom Gedalia, chas vishalom, a tzadik like him transgressed a blatant mitzvah, rather he was being too Stringent of not even being cautious about rumors that he heard that he might be killed by someone.

Sefer Chofetz Chaim Hilchos Rechilus chapter 9 halacha 2

There are 5 conditions that must be met in order to be allowed to speak rechilus for a constructive purpose. 1. Can’t jump to conclusions. When you see or hear something wrong that might effect others first think about what just happened, maybe even investigate before concluding it really is bad.  2. Don’t exaggerate, if you must say something just say it how it is and nothing more.  3a. One must have proper intent to help the would be victims, not to speak up out of hatred because then it would be rechilus. However that does not exempt you from speaking up because there is a mitzvah to not just stand by and let other people get hurt physically and monetarily, לא תעמוד על דם רעך. So if you have hatred towards the perpetrator this should arouse you to remove it from your heart before speaking up but if you don’t you still must speak out and you will just get a sin of rechilus for performing the mitzvah of saving a person’s life.  3b. Even if you have the proper intentions, you aren’t exaggerating, and you got the scenario right, but if there is no way that what what you say will help in any way then you can’t say it and it is rechilus. Whether you think you won’t be listened to or whether after the fact you say I told you so, after warning him once it is still rechilus because nothing good can come out of what you say. Another example is in shidduchim. You are able to speak up before a shidduch goes through, while they are still investigating, but once there is an engagement it is rechilus to speak up now, they are planning on getting married, they want each other, it is only hurtful to say anything about either party now. It is better for them to get married, and you’ll see what will happen. Maybe what you know isn’t a factor, no red flags came up during dating so your issue might not be an issue. Worst comes to worst they will have to get divorced. Another example is if the victim that you want to help has a big mouth, and he will tell the world what you said and it might even get back to the person you were talking about, there is than mo mitzvah to tell him because it might create a big fight. It’s his problem now if he might get hurt.    4. If you are able to resolve the issue without needing to speak rechilus you have to fix the situation in that manner, even if that will be the hard way of taking care of things.   5. Even if you know there is a problem, there is no other way to fix it besides speaking up, you have the right intent, to help, and you are ready ti say precisely what you heard or saw, and you know you might very likely help the potential victim but if he might cause more harm to the would be perpetrator than what any court would do to him then you can’t tell the potential victim because he can’t be allowed to punish the perpetrator more than what he deserves. That means, for example if you are the only person telling him, he can’t do anything worse than forcing the perpetrator to swear that he did, or will do no harm, because at best a single witness can only enforce an oath in court. But even if two people let say tells the victim Who stole from him. If they know the victim will go and beat up the thief, they can’t tell the victim because the court would only monetarily punish him and the victim would be going overboard, so it would be better just to tell police or the court and let them handle it for the victims instead of the perpetrator getting unlawfully punished.

Sefer Chofetz Chaim hilchos rechilus chapter 9 halacha 1

If you see your friend wants to partner with someone, or hire someone for a job, or babysitter, etc. And you feel that person will definitely cause harm to your friend, for example you know he is a thief. Even if you are the only one who knows it and no one else, you still must tell your friend in order to save him from harm. However, when telling you you must meet the 5 prerequisites that will be discussed in the next halacha. When speaking up about someone who someone else is about to hire you have to take 3 things into account. (A) are you allowed to tell your friend so that he won’t hire him and cause himself a loss, (B) is there perhaps a mitzvah, obligation to tell him, and (C) on the other hand it might be forbidden to tell him because it’s rechilus since he could be causing the would-be worker a loss. All these factors must be taken into consideration before talking to your friend in order to know whether you should, could, and if so how to talk to him. The mitzvah that one would be fulfilling or not transgressing is “לא תעמוד על דם רעך” (ויקרא 19:16) “Do not stand on the blood of your friend.” This prohibition doesn’t only apply to saving your fellow Jew’s life if you can but also protecting his money as we see in Sanhedrin73a. This isn’t just a prohibition against standing by and not testifying to get back money that you know was unlawfully taken away from your friend which you have an obligation to go to court and testify about even if you are alone, not two witnesses, because you can at least force the suspect to swear and pay but even as an individual to go over to the potential victim and warn him about the thief or any damage lurking in his midst is a mitzvah and if not done one will transgress this prohibition. See Choshen Mishpat 426:1, Sifra Vayikra 19:16, Rambam Sefer Hamitzvos mitzva 297, Shaar Mishpat Choshen Mishpat 28:2, also see Sefer Hachinuch mitzvah 236).

Even though it seems very clear that one must speak up and it would not be rechilus if he helps someone not get hurt physically or monetarily but one must remember that he cannot be too quick to speak up and be sure to meet all the 5 prerequisites before doing so in order not to transgress the prohibition of rechilus.

Sefer Chofetz Chaim hilchos rechilus chapter 9 introduction

In the laws of Lashon hara chapter 10 was dedicated to cases where one is allowed to speak lashon hara about a person was acting inappropriately in matters of man and his fellow man, i.e. interpersonal relationships, and the speaker is only speaking out for the betterment of others. Now, chapter 9 of the laws of Rechilus is dedicated to when one is ideally permitted to speak rechilus, if the speaker’s intent is to remove or avoid damages. The Chofetz Chaim concludes the introduction that may Hashem not cause me to stumble in the word of Jewish law.

In the Be’er Mayim Chaim the Chofetz Chaim elaborates, and says that before we begin the chapter, he wanted to discuss something very important in these matters. From the fact that the Rambam (Hilchos Deos 7:5) says, “If one tells someone something that will cause, if the word spread, for damage to happen to the subject matter, either physically, monetarily, painfully, or fear, this is considered lashon hara.” Based on this it seems that lashon hara is different than any other monetary damage because one is normally exempt from indirect damage but liable for indirect when speaking lashon hara. The reason being is that the Torah doesn’t forbid anything that leads to monetary damage, for example one is permitted to make a fire in his backyard for a BBQ, or is allowed to have a herd of oxen, etc. but technically if they do direct damage, he is liable, therefore if indirect damage happened he is exempt. However, Lashon hara is ideally forbidden to be spoken to begin with so even indirect damage is forbidden. Therefore if one wants partner in business or wants to be hired for a job and someone else had said something bad about him and it traveled until it got to the would be partner or hire and he does not get the job, it is the person who originally spoke the lashon hara who is at fault for this guy not landing the job in the business deal, even though he wasn’t the one who told the partner or the one hiring the guy. This issue of rechilus and lashon hara is not just direct damage but even preventing someone from getting good coming to themes forbidden. There is a famous case in Kiddushin 59a of a person who grabs an ownerless cake rolling down the road which he sees a poor hungry person running after it to get it and he picks it up to keep it for himself. He is called wicked for taking away the opportunity for the poor person to acquire a piece of food even though it didn’t belong to anyone and he had equal riht as the poor man to acquire it but he didn’t need it, though he wanted. All the more so a person who bad mouths someone and causes him not to get a job or the like and he’s not viaing for the job himself, is certainly called wicked, for example he says this guy is a great electrician, but he has a very bad attitude. So now the person he told is going to look for someone else, and the electrician is out of a job and lost money even though he could have done it just fine, all because you spoke rechilus about him, for no benefit to yourself that’s why you are wicked. The Chofetz Chaim concludes that he went onto so much detail here to make clear that all the examples we are about to learn are forbidden rechilus if the parameters are met to permit one to speak out.

Sefer Chofetz Chaim hilchos rechilus chapter 8

There are many cases that fit into the category of avak rechilus, the dust of rechilus or quasi rechilus, which means you say something which isn’t negative, but the listener might take it negative and therefore it’s forbidden to say. Here are a few examples, please use your head to apply to cases elsewhere:

1. Gary at Todd, how is David doing? Todd says I don’t want to talk about it, or shhhhh, I don’t want to tell you what happened or what’s going to be with him. The point is Todd is obviously hinting to something bad that David is involved with, and Gary might now think up negative thoughts about David which might be or might not be true, but they are negative so it’s avak rechilus, even if the words that Todd said were not negative at all. If Todd had a negative tinge to his voice, then it could be real rechilus especially if Gary is looking for something, has an agenda to know what’s happening with David, but at the very least it is still avak rechilus. The best thing to say is David is fine and moves on with the conversation.

2. If you praise a person in front of someone else, not just his enemy, even loved ones or partners in business, if they will get upset then you can’t praise the person in front of them. For example you praise someone’s partner or spouse in front of their face on how much tzedaka he or she gives, or leant you a big loan, and the like. They might get and think how is just wasting or spending money without calculating, the business will go down the drains or he doesn’t care enough about the family etc. It might lead to arguments or even break ups. This only applies to telling people about big gifts or big loans or the like. This is why the gemara in Erichin 15a says “Do speak praise of your friend because through good it will come to bad.”

3. If you ask a favor from someone and he said I can’t do it. You can’t say back so and so told me you did this favor for him so why can’t you do it for me? The guy might get upset at the one he did the favor to because he told someone else what you did. And even if you don’t tell him that he told you that this guy did a favor for him, you just say I know you’ve done this favor for other people and it’s he knows who must have told him, that us still avak rechilus, because now he will be upset at the person, he originally did the favor to. 4. If you say something that you heard, that could be taken 2 ways. For example, if you tell someone I heard from so and so that you always have a fire on in your kitchen cooking meat and fish all the time. That could mean he’s a glutton and his wife is always cooking for him tons of delicacies to eat or they always have a lot of guests and she cooks up a storm all the time. He might have taken it the wrong way and think so and so was calling him a glutton and feel insulted. We see the severity of this issue from a Yerushalmi in Peah 1:1 with the Pnei Moshe who says that the Angel’s changed what Sarah said when they spoke to Avraham. Instead of saying she laughed and said my husband is old they said that she said I am old. Even though it was the reality and not an insult but it was like avak lashon hara so it was worth lying for this is the severity of avak lashon hara and avak rechilus.

5. The Chofetz Chaim quoting Rabbeinu Yona says this is worse than any other avak rechilus: A person must keep secret a secret his friend confided in him about, even though revealing the secret might not be rechilus but it could cause damage to the person who said the secret and might psychologically disturb him if he finds out the secret was leaked. Also it’s a lack of modesty to reveal a secret and he is just going against the words of the person who entrusted him with that secret.

Sefer Chofetz Chaim hilchos rechilus chapter 7 halachos 3-5

Halacha 3: Makes no difference if you spoke rechilus to the subject himself or to his relatives, even if you tell them to keep it a secret because they will still get angry and bear a grudge against someone who said or did something to his or her relative. Surely to not tell them to keep it a secret is forbidden because word spreads and the subject will find out and fights will escalate but even if they won’t tell him, it’s forbidden whether it’s an outright negative statement or it can be taken either way, telling the relatives we can assume the relatives will take a negative slant and defend their family. However, if you tell a total stranger what someone did to someone else and tell him to keep it a secret that is fine because nothing can escalate.

 Halacha 4: Rechilus is a problem whether you are telling on a Jew to another or to a non-Jew and it’s even worse telling a non-Jew because no doubt he will cause trouble for the would be suspect and might even be life threatening. This means even telling a non-Jew that this Jewish prodect you bought isn’t so good or the job the Jew did for you wasn’t a great job and the like. However, if it is really true that the Jew sold the non-Jew something broken or really did a terrible job the there is an obligation to tell the non-Jew based on the pasuk of “righteousness, righteousness you shall run after” (Devarim 16:20). The Jews are holy; just and upright, therefore we have to adhere to doing the right thing and if one of us did wrong even to a non-Jew we can’t cover it up. However, if the matter is relative or false then it is certainly rechilus.

Halacha 5: You can’t accept rechilus from anyone just like lashon hara even from your wife. It’s extra critical when your wife is telling you about her day, she is allowed to vent but if she starts telling you how she heard how someone said something or did something not nice to you then you can’t show your interest in what she is saying and you should politely and nicely show your disinterest and figure out a way to nicely tell her you don’t want to here about it. This is because what she is saying is rechilus and if you agreeably listen now she will speak rechilus again some other time and it will cause a lot of anger, frustration, arguments and eventually depression.