The Laws #87

To Stand by While Your Brother is Damaged

There are many situations when I am obligated to say over things that people have tried to do to you and there’s a specific mitzvah to do it. For instance, explains the Chafetz Chaim, let’s assume that I see that you’re going to enter into a business transaction or a shidduch or some involvement with a certain person. And I know for a fact that that person is inappropriate, will either damage you in this business dealing or is a bad shidduch. Or specifically let’s say I know the person steals. Then not only am I allowed to tell you, I’m obligated to tell you because there’s a full issur in the Torah לא תעמד על דם רעך, do not stand by and watch while your friend is damaged, whether it be physically, whether it be monetarily.

However, explains the Chafetz Chaim, for me to be allowed to tell you over these events, there are five criteria that have to be met. Number 1, I have to know for a fact that that which I’m telling you is in fact really wrong. Meaning to say, if I’m going to tell you don’t go into business dealings with Reuven because he’s a thief, I have to know for a fact that it’s true; I have to know factually that he really stole. Number 2, I can’t exaggerate. If I know that he stole once, I can’t say he stole 10 times. I have to tell what I know. Number 3, I have to be מתכוון לתועלת, my intentions have to be for the good. I have to have in mind helping the situation, preventing the harm. And I have to know that there will be a toeles, there will be something good that will come of it. Number 4, it has to be that there’s no other way for me to accomplish the same results without telling you the story. And Number 5, I have to know that what’s going to come out of this story, my telling, is not going to be worse than if this had been effectively known in beis din, had two witnesses come to beis din to tell this.

Now, each of these five particular tena’im, these five criteria, are required. And in the future sessions we’re going to go over them one by one.

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