SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM
Soliciting Information: Preconditions
As it is forbidden to cause another Jew to transgress, one may not solicit information unless it is clearly permissible for the other person to offer such information. Thus, in order to solicit information, the following conditions must be met:
(1) The person from whom information is being sought is not known to fabricate stories about others, to read into their behavior in an unjust manner, or to draw hurried conclusions about their character;
(2) And the person is not known to exaggerate in his descriptions of events;
(3) and it can be assumed that when informed that the information is necessary, he will not speak out of malice toward the subject; (thus, one may not seek information from a person who is not on good terms with the subject); and
(4) it is clear that the information is necessary for a constructive purpose, and that there is no alternative to soliciting such information.
SEFER SHMIRAS HALOSHON
With Love and Respect
We find that the Sages willingly brought shame upon themselves in order to save another person from being shamed:
It happened once that Rabban Gamliel said: “Awaken seven judges for me and have them come to the attic.’’ The next morning, Rabban Gamliel awoke and found eight judges in the attic. He declared, “Whoever ascended without permission should descend.’’ Shmuel HaKattan arose and said, “I am the one who ascended without permission.’’ … It was not really Shmuel HaKattan who ascended without permission, but someone else. It was only because of the embarrassment that person would have suffered that Shmuel HaKattan made his admission (Sanhedrin 11a).
Surely, then, one should help his friend correct any improper behavior that could lead to his embarrassment. Certainly if one sees his fellow acting in a manner which is contrary to halachah, he is obligated to inform him of this privately and, if necessary, rebuke him. In so doing, one fulfills both the commandment to reprove one’s fellow (Vayikra 19:17) and the commandment to love one’s fellow as oneself.
When one helps his fellow Jew to improve his Divine service, he brings great satisfaction, as it were, to Hashem. Conversely, when one disparages his fellow before others for his having behaved incorrectly, what does the One Above gain from this?