SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Hilchos Rechilus 9:11-12
Returning to the case of “Shakran’s Clothing”:
What if Shaya has already purchased the suit? Would Nachi be allowed to tell him that he was cheated?
The Chofetz Chaim explains:
If he [Shaya] already purchased the merchandise and the other person [Nachi] knows that he was cheated, either in the price or some defect in the merchandise, then it depends:
If according to halachah, the buyer is not entitled to any refund … then surely, whoever incites the buyer by showing how he was cheated has been guilty of speaking rechilus. [The reason is simple:] Since, according to halachah, he has no claim, informing the buyer that he has been cheated is mere prattling, like a typical gossiper who goes from place to place bringing information from one person to another.
Even if the buyer asks someone if he thinks he was cheated, the person should not tell him the truth. Surely it would be a great sin to convey such information, if he knows that the buyer will react by causing the seller a loss (either by seizing one of his possessions, or by withholding some of the money that he still owes).
However, if the person [Nachi] understands that halachah would grant the buyer either a partial or complete refund, and the buyer would want to claim this refund, then he must be told the truth, provided that:
• The person does not exaggerate the facts at all.
• His primary intention is to correct the wrong and get the buyer his money, and not to rejoice over the seller’s shame. On this note, it is important that the buyer be the kind of person who would actually take the seller to beis din to claim his money. If the buyer would not go to beis din and would just be angry at the seller, then he should not be told the truth even if he inquiries about it.
In a case where the buyer cannot claim anything in beis din, it is a mitzvah to praise the purchase in his presence. This is not a transgression of “Distance yourself from falsehood,” for, as our Sages state clearly, it is a mitzvah to make someone feel good and praise his purchase.
If it seems that he [Nachi] can convince the seller to refund the money; or, if there is any other way for him to get the buyer his refund without resorting to rechilus, he is required to do so.
The buyer should be someone who is not prone to speaking rechilus. Otherwise, we must be concerned that he will approach the seller and say, “So-and-so told me that I was cheated,” which would be rechilus. In such a case, it is questionable whether one would be allowed to inform the buyer, since by doing so he would cause him to speak rechilus. It would seem, says the Chofetz Chaim, that if the buyer will heed the warning, “Don’t tell him that I told you this!” then it is permitted to inform him that he was cheated.
IN A NUTSHELL
If a person has already been cheated and halachah entitles him to a refund, one is allowed to inform him, provided that he fulfills the necessary conditions.
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