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The Laws #64

Rechilus: The Definition

As we’ve discussed, לא תלך רכיל בעמך, do not be a talebearer, do not be a peddler in your nation has three manifestations. The first is lashon hara. Lashon hara is defined as words that hurt, words that damage. If I speak derogatory words about a fellow Jew, I violate the lo sa’aseh of לא תלך רכיל בעמך because I’ve spoken words that hurt, words that damage and I’ve violated לא תלך רכיל בעמך.

The second manifestation of לא תלך רכיל בעמך is motzi shem ra. Motzi shem ra are also words that hurt and words that damage but they’re not true. Lashon hara by definition has to be true. Motzi shem ra by definition are words that aren’t true. If I tell a story that is fundamentally not true or not correct, and it’s derogatory, it’s motzi shem ra. And also if I tell a story that’s basically true but I embellish it, change it in such a way that it now becomes either derogatory or more derogatory, I also violated motzi shem ra.

But the third manifestation is rechilus. Rechilus the Rambam defines as when I come to you and say this is what So-and-So said about you, this is what So-and-So did to you. Explains the Chafetz Chaim, that this is a particularly egregious manifestation ofלא תלך רכיל , why? Because almost by definition it causes hatred, it causes machlokes.

When I tell you that So-and-So did such and such to you, or said such and such about you, naturally you’re going to feel hurt, you’re going to feel that you want either wreak vengeance against him, take nekamah or in general you’re just going to feel hurt. And in that sense this manifestation of לא תלך רכיל בעמך, of rechilus, is considered even worse than the other ones because, again, it causes naturally a situation of strife and machlokes in the Klal Yisrael.

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