Hilchos Rechilus — Closing Illustrations
The Chofetz Chaim concludes his sefer with a number of illustrations of the laws of rechilus.
The first is where someone you know contemplates a business partnership with a person whom he considers honest and capable. However, you know that the person is dishonest and is careless when he is investing other people’s money. In this case, you would be correct — and, in fact, obligated — to advise your friend not to enter into this partnership, provided that the five conditions in Day 107 have been met.
However, the Chofetz Chaim points out that sometimes it would be a serious mistake to interfere.
Hershel is troubled. His good friend Danny is on the verge of opening a business with Noach as his partner. But Danny does not know that Noach had been partners in a different business until six months ago, when the stock market crash brought his business crashing down as well.
“Noach’s fortunes have taken a downward turn,” Hershel is thinking. “I wouldn’t join him in a business venture right now — and I don’t think Danny should either. I’d better warn him.”
In such a case, says the Chofetz Chaim, it would be a great sin to reveal the information to Danny. The fact that Noach’s business has collapsed through no fault of his own does not indicate in any way that he will not be successful in the future. To the contrary, perhaps now Hashem will have mercy upon him and he will succeed. The Chofetz Chaim also notes that the highest form of tzedakah is to help a person be self-supporting;1 going into partnership with Noach can grant him the livelihood he desperately needs. And, as stated in Shulchan Aruch, one cannot lose from fulfilling the mitzvah of tzedakah.
If the partnership is already a reality, then, as mentioned above, even if Hershel knows that Noach is dishonest or reckless, he would only be allowed to reveal this if Danny will take the matter before a beis din and not dissolve the partnership on his own.
The Chofetz Chaim then offers a scenario where Hershel has other intentions.
Hershel’s friend Danny is desperate. In the past five years, he has tried his hand at five different businesses, and all of them failed miserably
— for good reason. Danny simply does not have good business sense. He buys poor merchandise at inflated prices, and he misses countless opportunities to buy top-quality items at rock-bottom prices.
Now, Danny wants to try his hand at a new business, but he needs a partner who will supply the capital for this venture. Anyone who knows of Danny and his business career would never consider such a partnership.
But Noach does not know Danny at all. Hershel, who feels very bad for Danny, decides to convince Noach, who has plenty of money, to become Danny’s partner.
It is forbidden for Hershel to suggest the partnership to Noach. If he does, then he has transgressed “And before a blind person do not place a stumbling block” which prohibits us from misleading others.
IN A NUTSHELL
We must be extremely careful before suggesting that someone enter or not enter into a partnership with others.
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