Rechilus and Loshon Hora

The conditions for a statement to be considered proper, constructive speech, rather than prohibited rechilus, are almost identical to those which permit communicating information that would otherwise be considered loshon hora (i.e. information that is derogatory or harmful). In fact, a study of the situations which permit rechilus l’toeles (for a constructive purpose) will reveal that virtually every case involves loshon hora as well.

As discussed above, among the reasons which permit speaking rechilus for a constructive purpose are the prevention or termination of harm, or gaining restitution for harm caused by the subject. Such statements invariably incriminate the subject, and are therefore loshon hora. Thus, for rechilus to be spoken for a constructive purpose, all conditions which permit speaking loshon hora for a constructive purpose must be met as well.

Conversely, not all motives that justify negative speech qualify as a constructive purpose to permit speaking rechilus. While one may publicize the wrongdoings of an individual if social pressure could bring about a change in his behavior, one could not do so if the victim is as yet unaware of the individual’s identity. The evils of causing animosity between the victim and villain outweigh the possibility that social pressure will yield concrete constructive results.

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© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation