In this segment, we begin learning the laws of avak rechilus (the “dust” of rechilus); statements which are not actual rechilus but which are nonetheless forbidden because they may cause ill will.
The first case is where Reuven tells Shimon, “You know, the other day someone asked Levi about you and he replied, ‘Oh, I think we’re best off not discussing him.’” Such a report indicates that Levi was hinting to something negative about Shimon.
The Chofetz Chaim’s second case is where mentioning someone’s generosity might cause the listener to be upset with him. For example, Levi tells Reuven, who is Shimon’s partner in a contracting firm, “Shimon is one of the nicest people I know. While you were away on vacation, he sent one of your best workers to help me with the porch I’m building — free of charge!” Reuven may not be very happy to hear that his partner is sharing their workers with others for free. To inform Reuven of this is to speak avak rechilus.
The third case is where Reuven’s business has scored some great successes and word of this spreads. A generous fellow, Reuven extends huge loans to help some friends get started in business. But when another friend comes who has a reputation of not paying his debts, Reuven is reluctant to help him. Some time later, this friend is discussing his plight with someone who exclaims, “Reuven didn’t help you with a loan? I’m shocked! He lent me so much money when I started my business!” While the man meant no harm, he very possibly has caused his listener to be angry with Reuven. He is, therefore, guilty of speaking avak rechilus.