The Laws #25

He's Not As Wealthy As You Think He Is

Because this case is very common and often comes up, it’s worthy to speak out even though it was mentioned earlier to some extent.

Let’s assume the world assumes that such and such man is wealthy. I mean, he’s rich! You should know he’s unbelievably rich! It happens to be that I know the facts that he’s not that rich. You know, he’s wealthy, but he’s not phenomenally wealthy. And I let people know it. Listen, I’m not saying he’s poor, I’m not saying he needs a handout, but you should just know that he’s not really that rich. Or, let’s assume a man once was very, very wealthy. He owned properties across the country, a phenomenally wealthy man. And it happens to be that I know that of late things have turned south for him and he’s no longer as wealthy as he was. But you don’t know that. And I let you know, “You should just know, So-and-So, yeah, true he’s still wealthy, but he’s nowhere near as rich as he used to be.”

Explains the Chafetz Chaim, that is lashon hara and those words are clearly damaging. Why? Because people like to do business with wealthy people. Certainly being wealthy in some circles is considered a sign of honor, people respect it. When I’m telling you he’s not as rich as you thought he was, he’s not as rich as he used to be, I’m informing you that he’s not quite who you thought he was and I’m taking him down a notch. I’m hurting his reputation, I’m hurting his position.

And therefore, explains the Chafetz Chaim, that’s 100 percent lashon hara. This includes whether it be that he’s wealthy, he’s strong, he’s brave, any personal attribute. If you assume that he’s very much up there and I inform you that he’s not, it’s automatically included in lashon hara and it’s fully forbidden.

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