The Laws #92

Rechilus L’toeles: Criteria 4

If I know that you’re going to enter into a business deal or a shidduch with Reuven and I know Reuven is not a reliable person, specifically I know he’s a thief, I’m allowed to tell you, provided that I met the five requirements. Number 1, I have to know factually what I’m saying, that Reuven stole. Number 2, I can’t exaggerate. Number 3, I have to be מתכוון לתועלת, I have to have in mind the good and know something good will come of it. And Number 4, I can’t bring about this same result in any other way.

Meaning to say, what I’m about to do by telling you is speaking rechilus. However, I’m allowed to do it because it’s l’toeles, it’s for a good purpose. The Torah says לא תלך רכיל בעמך, don’t be a talebearer, that’s because all I’m doing is speaking badly and making machlokes. But if the only way that I can get you this information, the only way I can protect you from harm is by telling you, then I’m allowed to because there are counter reasons, לא תעמד על דם רעך.

But if I could get the same result without telling you the story, if I could bring about the same protection to you in a different way, then there’s no heter; I’m not allowed to tell you. And the fourth criteria is there has to be no other way for me to accomplish this result other than directly telling you. When I meet all five then I’m allowed to tell you the information about Reuven.

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