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The Laws #26

Speaking Badly Of One's Merchandise

As it is lashon hara to speak words that damage a person’s reputation, so too it’s forbidden for me to speak words that damage his merchandise. Let’s assume a person has a store and I tell you, “You should just know, the quality of goods in his store – it’s not really that good. It’s not grade A. Go to another suit store, this one isn’t good.”

Now, if I’m telling you that l’toeles, if I know you’re going to shop at that store and you would be better served by going to another store and I have in mind your betterment, then under the right circumstances it’s not lashon hara. But if I’m telling it to you just because I want to let you know that you know, he doesn’t have that great quality, that bakery isn’t that great, his diamonds aren’t as good as the next guy’s, if I’m not doing it for a positive purpose, automatically it’s damaging.

As it’s forbidden for me to speak negative words about him as an individual, as a person, I’m not allowed to speak badly about his property, about his inventory. I can’t tell you his cars are garbage, his merchandise isn’t good, because that will directly damage him. You’ll tell somebody who will tell somebody who will tell somebody and eventually people won’t do business with him. Eventually it will lead to his harm. And explains the Chafetz Chaim that it’s fully, completely within the lo sa’aseh of lashon hara.

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