The Laws #67

Lying for Peace

If you suspect that someone spoke badly about you or did something and you come over to ask me what he said say about me, what he did to me, I’m forbidden to tell you, and I will have violated rechilus if I do tell you. What do I do, explains the Chafetz Chaim, if you ask me this? Obviously I can’t tell you. So if I can evade the question, evade the issue, without causing too much suspicion, that’s what I should do. If not, explains the Chafetz Chaim, I’m allowed to completely, totally lie. If you ask me what did So-and-So do to you, what did So-and-So say, and assuming that it’s rechilus, if the only way that I could avoid telling you what he did and what he said is by creating a lie, creating a full made-up story, the halachah is that you’re allowed to be meshaneh, you’re allowed to change the truth, mipnei hashalom, for peace. Explains the Chafetz Chaim, this is a classic example.

So if you ask me, what did So-and-So say about you – assuming that it’s negative, assuming that it would be rechilus – if I could avoid it by just sort of slipping out of the question, fine. If not, I’m allowed to completely lie. I’m allowed to make up a story, because this is considered a complete example of shalom. And you’re allowed to lie mipnei shalom. Rather than answering and saying rechilus, I’m allowed to fabricate a story.

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