If I saw Reuven steal money from Shimon, I’m allowed to tell over that story if in fact I think that I can get the money back or even if I think that spreading the word will let people know that they can’t go about doing evil things. However, there are seven requirements that must be met for me to tell over the story.
The first one is I had to have seen the event itself with my own eyes. Number two, I have to know in fact that it was really wrong, that it was really stealing. Number three, I have to give rebuke to Reuven first before I go maligning him, before I go debasing him. I have to ask him why he did it, ask him to return the money. Number four, I have to be לתועלת מתכון, I have to have in mind a good purpose; I can’t just enjoy it or want to benefit, or just want to get him back. It has to be specifically for the purpose of either getting the money back or really letting people know about it.
In addition to this, I have to make sure that I don’t exaggerate. Oftentimes, adding a little bit to the story changes it, colors it, makes it different. I have to be very careful that I tell over what it is I saw and no more than what it is that I saw. Exaggerating it in any way adds to it and changes it so it’s no longer the event that happened and automatically puts it into the category of מוציא שם רע.
So I have to be very careful to a, have seen it, b, to know that in fact it was wrong. I have to give rebuke to the person. I have to have kavana, intention for the good. And I can’t exaggerate at all in the telling over of the story. If I meet these five criteria then I’m well on the way of having it be a situation that is permitted for me to speak. However there are two more criteria that are necessary to actually permit it.
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