Relatives and Non-Jews

SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Hilchos Rechilus 7:3-4

“Chayah, my washing machine just died and I need a new one, fast. I’m not sure if I should go to Mr. Felder’s appliance store or Mr. Adler’s. Do you have any preference?”

“I’ll tell you, Sarah, both of them have sterling reputations. They’re as honest as they come, and they stand behind their merchandise. But you know what my husband told me? He feels that Mr. Adler doesn’t just sell appliances — he knows appliances. He understands how these machines work, so when he recommends an item, it’s with the first-hand knowledge that this appliance is the best of its kind. Mr. Felder, on the other hand, goes by what he hears from wholesalers. That’s okay, but it doesn’t compare to being electronically savvy. So I feel more confident buying from Mr. Adler.

“Please don’t repeat what I just told you. I wouldn’t want it to get back to Mr. Felder.”

If Sarah can be trusted not to repeat this conversation, then Chayah has acted correctly in responding to Sarah’s question and providing her with some sound advice. If Sarah would foolishly repeat the conversation to Mr. Felder, she would be guilty of speaking rechilus.

In this segment, the Chofetz Chaim points out that one would also be guilty of rechilus by repeating the conversation to Mr. Felder’s wife or other close relative. They, too, might feel personally offended upon hearing what Chayah’s husband had to say about Mr. Felder’s appliance expertise.

As with lashon hara, it is forbidden to speak rechilus about a Jew to a non-Jew.

“Who fixed your sidewalk, Mr. McVay?” “My neighbor, Mr. Friedman. He did a good job, and gave me a good price — only $1,200.”

“You call that a good price? I could have gotten you someone who would have done the same job for $1,000.”

In this conversation, nothing has been accomplished, other than to make Mr. McVay upset at his Jewish neighbor, who claimed to have been doing the job for a bargain price. Even if it would be true that someone else would have done the job for less, the job was already done and had already been paid for. And who is to say that the person who charges $1,000 would have done the same quality work? As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” It is possible that Mr. Friedman’s work is actually worth more than the price he charged.

Criticizing someone’s work is no simple matter.

IN A NUTSHELL

We may not tell someone a negative report concerning his or her close relative.

We may not speak rechilus to a non-Jew.

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© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

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