SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Hilchos Rechilus 8:1-3
Avak rechilus (lit. the dust of rechilus) are statements that are not actually rechilus, but contain some aspect of rechilus. In this segment, the Chofetz Chaim offers three examples.
1) Implied rechilus
Nesanel tells Menachem, “You know, I asked Ezzy about that incident you were involved in at recess the other day. But he wouldn’t talk about it. He said, ‘I’ve decided that I’m not going to tell anyone what Menachem did. If there will be any repercussions, you’ll hear about it.’“
Ezzy’s words, as reported by Nesanel, do not contain anything negative about Menachem — but they certainly imply that Menachem did something wrong. Therefore, such a report is liable to cause Menachem to have bad feelings towards Ezzy. Nesanel should not have repeated Ezzy’s words.
2) Seemingly innocuous statements that will irritate someone
Shaya Grobler of “Grobler and Mannis Insurance” walked into shul for Shacharis after being away on a two-week vacation. The first person he met was R’ Yankel, a friendly Jerusalem fund-raiser who was on his yearly visit to the city.
“R’ Shaya, so good to see you! You and your partner, Yechezkel Mannis, are my two best friends in this city. You know, while you were away, R’ Yechezkel gave me a check for $2,500 from your firm’s charity fund! It’s the largest donation your firm has ever given us, and the largest one to date that we’ve received in this city. Thank you, and may you be blessed!”
Quite possibly, the two partners have an arrangement where each may issue charity checks without consulting the other. However, there is the possibility that Mr. Grobler will be upset to learn that his partner gave such a large donation to a single cause. The fund-raiser should not have revealed such information.
3) Revealing knowledge of a favor done privately
Ephraim Stein needed to borrow money to pay for the wedding of his daughter. One night, he visited the well-to-do Zanvil Holtzman and got straight to the point. “My daughter’s wedding is in six weeks. Right now, I’m twenty thousand dollars short of what I need. I came to you to request a $10,000 loan.”
Mr. Holtzman replied softly, “Ephraim, you’re a good man and I want to help you. But right now, the most I can offer you is $5,000.”
Ephraim was extremely disappointed. Without thinking, he blurted out, “But Yanki Sterber told me that for his daughter’s wedding, you lent him $15,000!”
Mr. Holtzman fought to control his anger over this remark. “I don’t understand Yanki,” he thought. “I went out of my way to extend so much money to him, and then he goes and tells others about it — and now I’m having trouble because of it! Talk about gratitude!”
Yanki was wrong for revealing the details of Mr. Holtzman’s loan to him, and Ephraim was guilty of speaking rechilus by relating to Mr. Holtzman what Yanki had said.
IN A NUTSHELL
We must avoid all forms of avak rechilus.
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