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Thank you to David Solomon for this review material, which was part of his class for BMT students in Jerusalem in 1993.

  1. Circumstances Under Which Speaker Rechilut is Permissible
  2. General Caution

This is the final review class on Hilchot Lashon Hara and Hilchot Rechilut.

Hilchot Rechilut Review: Part 3

VI. Circumstances Under Which Speaker Rechilut is Permissible

If a relationship is about to be formed which will cause harm to one party, it is a “mitzvah” (positive action) to warn that individual. However, the following conditions must be satisfied before it is permissible to relate the information:
  1. Actual danger – it must be verified that there is a real threat.

  2. Accuracy – no exaggeration or lie regarding the danger can be added to the description.

  3. (a) Constructive intent – the speaker must have constructive intentions, i.e. to help the individual in danger (“Reuven”), not out of dislike towards the other party (“Shimon”).
    (b) Constructive effect – the result of relating the information must have the desired effect only; if Reuven would ignore the warning, or if he would go about speaking Lashon Hara against Shimon, it is forbidden to warn him.

  4. Lack of alternative – there is no other way to achieve the result other than to speak Rechilut. Speaking with Shimon; convincing Reuven not to establish the relationship in a way that doesn’t involve Rechilut; or an undetectable, more roundabout method are all possible ways in which someone might avoid speaking Rechilut, depending upon the situation.

  5. No unwarranted harm – if Shimon would be harmed more than is deemed appropriate by Jewish Law, it is forbidden to warn Reuven. For example, if Shimon would be persecuted or embarrassed, speaking Rechilut would be forbidden. (However, for Shimon to not get a job or other benefit which the relationship would entail would be “appropriate” according to halacha.)
[Note: Some terminology in the section above is from the book “The Sanctity of Speech”.]

Once a partnership or other relationship has been formed, the laws involving dissolving the partnership must be reviewed very carefully. If there is no basis according to Jewish Law for breaking the partnership, it is forbidden to tell Reuven the information.

General caution: It is very important to recognize the severity of the prohibition, and to realize that a sin is committed whenever someone well-intentioned speaks Rechilut without fulfilling the above conditions. Even by speaking more negatively against Shimon that absolutely necessary to warn Reuven would constitute such a violation.

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HaLashon, Copyright (c) 1996, 2002 by Ellen Solomon and Project Genesis, Inc.