Those Whom We Trust

SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Hilchos Rechilus 6:5-6

“Chaim, you’ll never believe what I overheard today in the grocery. Ezzy Feingold has also starting marketing doughnuts and he was trying to convince Mr. Fried to place a huge order …”

“Sarah, please, I don’t want to hear. It makes no difference to me what Feingold does …”

“Chaim, just wait till you hear what Feingold said! ‘Mr. Fried, I know whose doughnuts you’ve been getting. Believe me, that stuff doesn’t compare to what I have to offer. Besides, we use only natural ingredients, not the junk that those guys use.’

“Doesn’t Feingold have some nerve, Chaim? I was so tempted to shout, ‘How dare you degrade my husband’s mouth-watering products — shame on you!’ “

“Sarah, I know you mean well in telling me all this, but you shouldn’t do it.”

“Chaim, what do you mean? I’m just fulfilling my duty as a devoted wife!”

“Sarah, what you’ve told me is actually rechilus. There was really no to’eles in your reporting it to me and I am not permitted to believe it. Even if your report is true, what can I do about it? Bad-mouth Feingold in return? All that would accomplish would be to create a real machlokes.

“Besides, what we earn is decreed in Heaven on Rosh Hashanah. No one can deprive me of what is destined for me by speaking badly about my merchandise.”

“Chaim, look, I understand that I should not have reported it to you, and I’ll be more careful in the future. But how can you not believe it is true? I am your wife and I am telling you that I heard it myself. Are you suggesting that I am a liar?”

“Well, there are many ways that I can reject your report without accusing you of lying. You may have misunderstood something that Feingold said; you may have imagined that what he said was worse than it actually was; and even if your report is accurate, not once did he mention me by name. Perhaps there was some other doughnut company to which he was referring.”

As the Chofetz Chaim notes, one cannot accept rechilus as fact even when it is related to him by someone whom he trusts implicitly, such as his father, mother, or wife. In Be’er Mayim Chaim, he comments that it is common even for sincere, G-d-fearing people to exaggerate or to omit certain details when relating a story, details that might help to convey an altogether different picture of what happened.

IN A NUTSHELL

One cannot believe rechilus even when it is related by someone whom he trusts implicitly.

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© 2020 Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

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