A Man of Trust

In the laws of loshon hora (Day 61), we discussed a situation where the person relating the loshon
hora is Mheiman K’Brei Trei, that is, where the listener considers the speaker’s integrity beyond reproach, to the point where he considers the speaker’s words equivalent to that of two valid witnesses testifying in court. Here, the Chofetz Chaim discusses a situation of rechilus. Can we accept such a report when the person relating it is Mheiman K’Brei Trei?

Obviously, if there is no constructive purpose in relating the information, it cannot be accepted in any case. If there is a constructive purpose, and the speaker is the type of trustworthy individual whom we have described, then it would seem that the listener could accept the information as fact (as opposed to merely protecting himself in case the information is accurate). However, the Chofetz Chaim makes the following points:

For a person to have this status of Mheiman K’Brei Trei, he has to be someone whom we trust implicitly in all situations. However, says the Chofetz Chaim, “If in other matters one does not believe him that much, and the real reason for believing him here is because the listener enjoys an interesting piece of loshon hora or rechilus, then surely it is forbidden to believe him — and to the contrary, the more the listener believes him and accepts the information as fact, the more he transgresses the sin of accepting rechilus.”

The Chofetz Chaim concludes that, practically speaking, we should not rely on the license of Mheiman K’Brei Trei to accept rechilus, for a number of Rishonim (Early Commentators) maintain that it is difficult to know for sure the level of integrity that is needed for a person to have this status. The Chofetz Chaim adds, “Many people err regarding this halachah. They are careful not to speak loshon hora, and not to accept it when they hear it from the average person, but they do accept it as fact when hearing it from their father, mother or spouse…This is a total error.”

In conclusion, even when told rechilus for a constructive purpose, by someone whom you trust implicitly, act upon the information but do not accept it as fact.

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© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

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