The Imperfect Fit

SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Hilchos Rechilus 9:10

Shaya Forenberg is one of the nicest people you will ever meet; kind, honest, and utterly sincere. Shaya does not know what it means to fool someone. The problem is, he thinks that everyone is like him.

Ben Shakran of Shakran Clothing knows Shaya well. When Shaya’s son became engaged, Ben told him, “Shaya, come to me for your wedding suit. Because you’re my friend and you’re making a simchah, I’ll charge you half price.”

Shaya was overcome with gratitude. “I am short on money and I don’t know how to thank you. I’ll be at your store first thing in the morning.”

Ben did not realize that Nachi Cohen had overheard the conversation. Nachi knew the sad truth: Ben was not an honest salesman. He would say anything to convince a customer to make a purchase, including lying about the quality of his merchandise.

Nachi himself had almost been victimized by Ben. He was about to purchase a suit that was “on sale” for only $325, but something bothered him about the way the jacket looked. He decided to hold off on his purchase and stopped in at another suit store. He found the exact same suit, not on sale, with a $150 price tag. When he asked the proprietor why the price was so cheap, the man replied, “Because it’s not made well and that’s what the suit is worth.”

Nachi is certain that Shaya will believe anything Ben tells him. The “half-price special” Ben is offering is a hoax.

Nachi is obligated to warn Shaya not to shop in Ben’s store, despite the fact that Shaya has already agreed to buy his suit there.

If Nachi were to walk into Ben’s store and see that Shaya is about to buy a suit that is clearly not worth the price, he would be obligated to tell him not to buy it.

In all situations, Nachi must fulfill the five conditions listed in Day 107. One of those conditions is that the person has no other way to accomplish his goal other than to speak rechilus. In our example, Nachi might tell Shaya, “You know, Shaya, I overheard you talking to Ben about buying a suit for your daughter’s wedding. Take my advice, go to ‘Chatzkel’s’ for a suit. I’ve been buying my suits there for the past couple of years and I guarantee that you will be satisfied.” If Shaya accepts this suggestion, then Nachi will have accomplished his goal without resort­ing to speaking rechilus.

However, Shaya might naively reply: “No way! I’m not buying anywhere but ‘Ben’s.’ He’s my friend and he offered me a special half-price deal. I already told him I’m going to buy from him, and I’m not going back on my word!”

Left with no choice, Nachi would be allowed to enlighten Shaya con­cerning the truth of Ben’s “generous” offer.


We are permitted to speak rechilus l’to’eles to prevent someone from being cheated, provided that we have fulfilled the five conditions.

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© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

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