Causing Others to Stumble

SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Hilchos Rechilus 9:13

In Day 109 we learned that one is permitted to tell someone he was cheated only if that person will not react by doing something contrary to halachah. In the case of Shaya and “Shakran’s Clothing,” (Days 111-112), one can inform Shaya that he was cheated only if he knows Shaya to be a G-d-fearing Jew, who would take a disagreement over money to beis din and not take the law into his own hands.

The Chofetz Chaim bemoans the fact that some do not follow the above guidelines.

Ezra is driving a 2005 Honda out of the “Incredible Used Cars” lot. “I don’t believe it,” Aaron thinks to himself. “He bought a used car from that thief, Moe Sandal? I have no doubt that Moe cheated him. He probably picked up the car in some junk yard and painted it to make it look good.”

That night after Maariv, Aaron approaches Ezra and says, “So how much did you pay for that Honda?”


“I was afraid you’d say something like that,” Aaron replied. “I doubt the car is worth more than $5,000. Did you already pay in full?”

“No, only half. I’m supposed to pay the rest over the next few months.”

“Well then, you’re in good shape. Give Moe another $500 and tell him that you heard from an expert that the car is only worth $5,000. If he doesn’t like that — well, too bad.”

The Chofetz Chaim mentions that in many instances, people give such advice purely out of hatred. Aaron may have had some previous dispute with Moe and is eager to “even the score.” He has no right to assume that the car is not worth the price, and he certainly is wrong for suggesting that Ezra withhold payment without taking the matter before a beis din.

The Chofetz Chaim enumerates Aaron’s “accomplishments”:

• He has spoken rechilus.

• He has transgressed “And before a blind person do not place a stumbling block.” With these words, the Torah cautions us not to cause others to sin. Aaron has caused Ezra to sin by inciting him to act in a way that is contrary to halachah.

• He has caused a machlokes which undoubtedly will lead to transgression of “And you shall not aggrieve one another, “which is the sin of “Ona’as Devarim” causing pain through hurtful words; and a host of other sins that machlokes brings about.

The Chofetz Chaim concludes:

How careful one must be not to become involved in such matters with­out first carefully considering all that we have written above. If he will act accordingly, Hashem will assist him so that no mishap will come about through him.


Those who advise others to break agreements without going to beis din are guilty of numerous sins.

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© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation