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The Laws #66

Forbidden Even At Great Cost

It is prohibited for me to tell you that So-and-So did something to you or So-and-So said something about you, even if you’re somewhat aware of it and you coax me into it.

So, for instance, let’s assume that you know that So-and-So was speaking to me and you even suspect that they were speaking about you. And you say to me, so tell me, what did he say about me? What is he planning to do to me? Explains the Chafetz Chaim, if I answer you and I tell you what in fact he said about you, something that’s negative, or what he plans on doing to you, et cetera, it’s something that’s negative, I have violated the lo sa’aseh ofלא תלך רכיל , that is the full prohibition of rechilus. Even though you coaxed me, even though you asked me, I’m forbidden to tell you.

And this halachah is true even if the person who’s asking me is someone who I’m specifically obligated to respect. If it’s my father, if it’s a Rebbi, someone who I’m obligated to respect, if they ask me to tell them what So-and-So said about them, what So-and-So did to them, I’m forbidden because it’s still within the category of לא תלך רכיל.

Explains the Chafetz Chaim, this is true even if it will cause me a tremendous loss of money. Let’s assume I work for someone and they’re aware of the fact that someone was speaking badly about them. But they don’t know exactly who it was or what was said, et cetera. And they say to me, tell me what happened. If I’m not allowed to tell them then it’s rechilus.  And even if I’ll lose my job, even if I’ll lose a tremendous amount of money, I’m not allowed to tell him. Why? Because this is fully in a category of a lo sa’aseh, a negative prohibition in the Torah.

Even if I’ll lose all of my money, all of my assets, I’m obligated not to violate an issur of the Torah. I’m not allowed to tell you what they said badly about you, what they did bad. Even if it’s going to cause me a loss of reputation, of fame, even if it will cost me a loss of money, even if I’ll lose my job. It’s fully within the category of rechilus, and it’s completely forbidden.

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