If I know that you’re entering into a business deal with Rueven and I know that Reuven is not scrupulous, I’m allowed to and I’m obligated to tell you, provided that I meet the five criteria. The first criteria is that I have to know factually that Reuven is not trustworthy, is a thief. Number 2- I can’t exaggerate. I can’t tell you more than I know.
The third criteria is that I have to be מתכוון לתועלת, I have to have in mind the good, and there has to be a good that comes out of this. Explains the Chafetz Chaim, every rasha, throughout history, has a right to say, I only did that which Hashem wanted. Pharaoh enslaved the Jewish people. But obviously that’s what Hashem wanted. Yet, in fact, you get punished, why? Explains the Chafetz Chaim, because your kavanah, your intentions, define what you do.
Therefore, if in fact I had some previous dealings with Reuven and I harbor ill feelings towards him. If when I’m telling over this story I’m telling you Reuven is a thief, but really my intentions are to seek revenge, to clean the slate from what he did to me, then I am potentially speaking lashon hara. Even if there’s a toeles, even if there’s a positive result, since my kavanah, since my intention is not for the good, but my intention is to secretly take my revenge, I haven’t fulfilled my obligation and that is fully lashon hara.
Explains the Chafetz Chaim, if I find myself in that situation, I can’t not speak, because I do have an obligation to help you. Let’s say, in fact, I know that Reuven is a thief, but I harbor ill feelings towards him. Explains the Chafetz Chaim, I have to tell you, because otherwise I’m allowing you to be harmed, לא תעמד על דם רעך, I’m not allowed to sit back and watch you being harmed. On the other hand, I can’t have the bad kavanah, because then I’m not speaking l’toeles, I’m doing it for revenge.
In that situation, I have to work on myself to get that hatred out of my heart, to recognize that everything is from Hashem. And I have to work on myself to speak properly, to tell you l’toeles, I have to have in mind to tell you for your protection and your good. And I have to win out over myself and say it only with that intention and not to enjoy any of the benefit of the revenge against Reuven.
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