In the Family

SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Hilchos Rechilus 7:1

In Hilchos Lashon Hara, we learned that the laws of proper speech are in force within the family no less than outside the family. A husband has no right to tell lashon hara to his wife, nor can a child tell lashon hara to his or her parent — unless the rules of to’eles have been met.

The same applies to the laws of rechilus.

The girls were having a cake sale in school to raise funds for tzedakah. When Chavi displayed her marble cake, Rina said, “My mother said that you would bring in a marble cake — it’s the only cake your mother bakes that comes out good!”

Chavi was very hurt by this thoughtless, hurtful comment.

Chavi would be wrong to repeat Rina’s comment to anyone — especially her mother. Chavi’s mother would surely be hurt by the comment, probably even more than Chavi. Furthermore, the comment has the potential to cause bad feelings and even a feud between the two women. Thus, repeating it would be a transgression of the laws of rechilus.

If Rina’s mother did make the comment, she quite possibly did not mean anything nasty. She might be a perfectionist, whose baked goods are picture-perfect, exactly as they appear in a magazine. Chavi’s mother bakes good, tasty cakes, but they don’t have that professional look — except for her marble cake.

Sometimes, a fairly innocent comment can be repeated in a way that gives a very bad impression, and may be the spark that ignites a terrible dispute.

Parents are very protective of their children, and rightfully so. It is for this reason that one must be very careful before telling parents that someone else’s child harmed their child in some way. The Chofetz Chaim notes that it is forbidden to speak rechilus about children, and he adds that problems of this sort often happen in shul.

Zalman Kochlefel loves excitement. If all is calm and peaceful, Zalman finds a way to stir up trouble.

On a quiet Shabbos afternoon during Shalosh Seudos, Zalman runs into shul and announces breathlessly, “Isaac, your son is really get­ting it from that Goldman kid. I tried to break up the fight, but the kid ignored me.”

Isaac is a hot-tempered man, a fact that Zalman knows very well. With Nachman Goldman not far behind, Isaac dashes out of the shul, grabs hold of young Chezky Goldman and lifts him into the air. “Don’t you ever touch my son again!” he bellows, before putting the frightened child down.

Chesky’s father runs up to Isaac and shouts, “You ever touch my son again, I’ll have you thrown out of this kehillah.”
Thus began a feud that never ended.
Zalman had his wish.

A fight between children is not that difficult to stop. If Zalman had cared to do the right thing, he could have approached others for help. The hot-tempered father should have been the last one to be called.

Someone who is truly interested in peace will be on guard not to fan the flames of strife.


We may not speak rechilus to family members, and we should be wary of relating information to those who are hot-tempered or prone to quarrel.

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© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation