Sefer Chofetz Chaim hilchos rechilus chapter 9 halacha 13

The conditions discussed in halacha 12 to be able to help someone out who was ripped off, either overcharged or given a lesser quality product then expected, can only be used if you know the buyer would not take action into his own hands, but rather would take the seller to court but if he is known to take matters into his own hands you can’t tell him he was ripped off unless you meet 3 more conditions:

1. You yourself saw the product he bought and know he paid too much for the quality of that item. It can’t be secondhand knowledge. That most likely means you must be an expert at making evaluations. This is because, just as a court won’t accept secondhand testimony, so to in this case where he will take matters into his own hand, you must treat it like a court case.

 2. You can’t tell him alone, it has to be told by two people, as witnesses since the court would not extract money from someone without two witnesses, unless it is well know what the value of the item is and the court would not need witnesses to prove that he was ripped off, then you can go over to him as an individual to inform him he was ripped off, since this would be no different than a court.

3. But this is impossible if you know he won’t do anything to rash beyond what the court would sentence, but if he will take action, for example, leave the item in the store and steal some money, or another item from that store, or do any other unlawful thing which is more than what a court would enforce to be done, then you can’t tell him he was ripped off.

 In any event the chances of meeting all the conditions to be able to talk are very slight, especially since there are times that you might speak up out of hatred for the company he bought from. But even if you meet all the conditions, that just means you don’t have a prohibition of lashon hara, but you are helping him to sin because he wants to take care of things on his own and not through the courts. Even if many people told him he’s in the right and the store is in the wrong but he still didn’t go through the courts to fix the situation.

There are many times unfortunately now a days where a person buys a product, let’s say for example he signs an agreement to install new windows into his home, and maybe will pay in increments. He then tells his friend all about it and his friend says owe you were ripped off the going rate is this much. But the reality is prices fluctuate and you have to make sure you know the latest value, and when he bought the items before you can say anything like that to him, because all you are doing otherwise is instilling hatred into the buyer towards the seller and the seller might not have done anything wrong. You can be giving him bad advice, starting and amplifying a big argument and transgressing many sins like lashon hara if you don’t meet the conditions, placing a stumbling block in front of the blind by advising him to unlawfully return the item or any other idea which would cause a loss to the seller (assuming the item doesn’t have a return policy). You will also be transgressing the sin of starting a fight and the ensuing sins that will follow as the fight potentially escalates. It’s better to not say a thing and keep to yourself unless you absolutely know and are confident you are doing the right thing, and with G-d’s help, everything works out without any problems.

Sefer Chofetz Chaim hilchos rechilus chapter 9 halachos 11, 12

 If one has already been overcharged or given an inferior quality product, the question of whether you can tell him about it really depends if he can do something about it. If he was charged over a a sixth of the going rate, then you can tell him and he can get his extra money back. If it was less than a sixth of the going rate, then we assume there is automatic forgiveness of being overcharged because it is within reason so you can’t tell him he was overcharged and it would constitute rechilus if you do. Even if he has not fully paid for what he bought, he has installments, and still can’t tell him, lest he does not pay the rest that he had originally agreed he owed. If it was an inferior or faulty product and he can still return it then you can tell him but if it is after the return policy then you can’t tell him and you should even praise the product if he asks you about it. That’s not transgressing lying because you are coming to avoid the prohibition of rechilus. This is based on a gemara I’m Kesubos 17a. If you know the person is the type of person that even if you tell him he was ripped off he won’t do anything about it, like he’ll be too lazy to return it or to call up and go through the hastle of getting some of his money back, and he’ll only have hatred towards the salesman for what happened then you can’t tell him either unless you know you can stop him from buying from there again. Of course, you have to meet the 5 conditions before being allowed to speak up:

1. You can’t exaggerate.

2. Your intent must be just to help your oppressed friend; therefore, it is highly likely that a competitor of the store he bought at can’t tell him that he was ripped off.

3. If you can rebuke the salesman and he will go over to the buyer and fix the problem then you should do that without telling the buyer.

4. If you can figure out a way to inform him of what happened without saying it straight out you should do so, for example if you can indirectly direct him to an advertisement, commercial, or article about the product he bought and he sees he was ripped off and will fix the situation on his own then you should do that and not tell him. We see that Hashem did a similar thing when he told Yehoshua to make a lottery to reveal that Achan was the one who was putting the entire Jewish nation in peril for the sin that he committed.

 5. If you see that the buyer by nature is a big talker and he will go over to the seller and name you as telling him that he was ripped off then it’s not so simple that you can tell him (and I am not sure if you would want to tell him) because you will be causing him to speak rechilus since he will tell the storekeeper who he got his information from. But if he promises not to drop any names then you can tell him.

Sefer Chofetz Chaim hilchos rechilus chapter 9 halacha 10

An example of a very delicate situation where one might be able to speak out: You know that your friend is a simpleton you know can be duped very easily and you also know that the store owner who he is about to walk into will take advantage of him, whether to convince to buy something he doesn’t want to buy, deceive him with wrong weight or measurement or just over charge him, definitely if he would charge more than a sixth of the going price, then you must tell him about this store and that he shouldn’t even enter it. Even if your friend had already made an agreement to buy from him. Definitely if you know for a fact that the merchant is planning on tricking him then he has to tell his friend. Let say the merchant tells his friend this is something which you must buy because every6is going to have it soon, and it’s a lie. Or if he tries over charging the friend, if more than a sixth for sure and if less than a sixth, there is a sfeika didina if he can tell him, because on th tone hand the Shulchan Aruch poskins (CHOSHEN Mishpat 227:6) that can’t trick person into over charging him even less than a sixth, but the Rosh poskins you can, but there is also an issue of lashon hara, so it’s better to be passive and say nothing for less than a sixth overcharging. But any amount of measuring or weighing wrong must be called out, but again as long as you meet all the conditions. There is in fact an argument between the Sm”a and Ta”z whether you get a sin for speaking up out of hatred though you are also just trying to help (potential) victims. The Sm”a ( Choshen Mishpat 421:28) says you would still be transgressing a sin. But the Ta”z there says that since you are doing a mitzva of protecting someone then you don’t get a sin just because you speak out, out of anger. However, it is most likely that you’ll run into other problems if you speak up out of anger because you’ll probably jump to conclusions to quickly,

Exaggerate, and might harm the would-be perpetrator more than he deserves and in that case you would be forbidden to speak up. In terms of the fourth condition, if you can get the person to leave the store, or not walk in without speaking the rechilus, you can do that if this might be a onetime thing, or you don’t know of past history that the storekeeper is a swindler. But if you know he is always a swindler then you should say something in order so that word will spread, and you can get the thief off the streets.

Sefer Chofetz Chaim Hilchos Rechilus chapter 9 halachos 6-9

These slew of halachos are a recap with some added extra points of what we already know. In halacha 5 the Chofetz Chaim said that if two people, like witnesses tell an employer, for example, who will act on his own and fire the employee, if they tell him he is a thief, that is permissible assume they meet the 5 conditions because they are getting done what would most likely happen in court. However, this only means they don’t transgress the prohibition of speaking rechilus however they are helping the employer do a sin because he doesn’t have the right to act spontaneously and take matters into his own hands without investigating or taking his employee to court, so it’s better to say nothing to these type of people, or at least be extremely careful before talking up, besides the fact of meeting all these conditions to be allowed to speak is very slim as well.

Also, just telling a victim of how someone stole from him or hurt him, granted you might want to be quick to help the victim or make sure nothing worse happens to him, but you have to be very careful to meet all the conditions first before helping the guy and telling the victim who was the perpetrator in order to get his stolen goods back or paid up for damages caused to him. You should also rebuke the perpetrator first and if he does not listen and act to fix things on his own then you can tell the victim in the appropriate manner.

It makes no difference whether someone confronts you asking about what happened or if you voluntarily tell someone. If you meet all the conditions, it is permitted and a mitzvah to help him and if not then it is a sin. We see that Hashem didn’t even tell Yehoshua that Achan took the spoils of Ai, which put the entire Jewish nation into peril, until the lottery was cast Achan admitted himself of his wrongdoing because Hashem didn’t want to speak lashon hara since there was other means to reveal the wrongdoer.

Even if you aren’t telling the victims but just telling the story to other people it is only permissible if the 5 conditions of talking are met.

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.