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.