The Laws of Rechilut
- Introducing a Derogatory Perspective to Information
- Repeating a Conversation
- Repentance for Speaking Rechilut
This chapter discusses Rechilut that reflects information
already revealed to the listener, and also how to make amends for
Introducing a Derogatory Perspective to Information
The prohibition against speaking Rechilut applies even if the
speaker does not inform the listener of anything new. Any
communication that causes hatred between individuals is considered
Rechilut. Therefore, to give the listener a newly resentful or
otherwise negative perspective about something he already knows
about would be forbidden.
For example, Reuven lost a court settlement, and Shimon asked
Reuven for details. Shimon then said the settlement didn't seem
fair to Reuven, which made Reuven think about the settlement
further and the judges who decided the case. Shimon spoke Rechilut
because he caused Reuven to feel animosity toward the judges.
[Rechilut might not even require anything new at all, but merely
rekindling an old dispute, as the Chafetz Chaim
Repeating a Conversation
If someone told an audience of two people something derogatory
about another, and one of the listeners repeated the conversation
to the one spoken about (violating the prohibition against
Rechilut), it would be forbidden for the second listener to do the
same. Hearing the same information a second time generally
strengthens one's belief in it, and increases the likelihood of
causing a controversy.
It would be an even greater violation of Rechilut for the second
teller to spice up the story by adding details the first
Also, it would be forbidden to resolve a doubt. For example, A
talked about B, to C and D. B approached D and asked, "Is it true
that A deprecated me to you and C?" D would be forbidden from
corroborating whatever C said, as that would be Rechilut.
Repentance for Speaking Rechilut
A bit of background:
Often, commandments of Jewish Law are divided into two major
classifications, Mitzvot Bein Adam L'Makom (commandments between man and
G-d) and Mitzvot Bein Adam L'Chaveiro (commandments between man and fellow
man). The first category reflects those commandments which only affect
one's relationship with G-d, while the second category reflects those
which impact another individual as well.
Repentance for any sin requires three steps: (1) remorse for one's
actions, (2) confession of one's sin privately to G-d (this is called
"Viduy" and performed in a formal manner throughout the day of Yom
Kippur), and (3) commitment not to repeat the sin in the future.
These steps are required to appease G-d in response to our misdeeds.
Repentance for Mitzvot Bein Adam L'Chaveiro has the additionally requires
that the sinner appease the person he wronged, as well as reverse most
damages where possible. For example, if someone stole property from
another, he would be required to return it and might also pay him a fine;
he would also have to apologize to the person he robbed, perhaps multiple
times until that person forgives him.
Interesting side note: In a case in which someone stole from public funds,
since he cannot identify the specific individuals he robbed to repay them,
he might have to provide some material benefit to society. Building a
facility, or even carrying around a large supply of pen to give to "the
public" whenever someone needed one, are possible examples. (I actually
heard of something similar to carrying around pens.) Of course someone
seeking repentance must seek the guidance of an halachic authority to
determine an appropriate action.
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