Question:

Dear Rabbi,

BH I got married last summer. Despite a really beautiful wedding we have been having terrible problems with the photographer we used ever since. Besides not fulfilling many of the duties on the contract, he lost a great part of the video footage, has been rude to us, keeps asking for more money, etc. We have even hired a lawyer to no avail. 11 months after the wedding we still haven´t received the material and I have decided to give up on it as every exchange with him makes me upset.

I feel it is my duty to warn others about him and I am considering writing bad reviews on his website and on other wedding providers sites. However, he is Jewish and I would like to know if it would be considered to be lashon hara. I never thought I would have such an experience with a Jewish brother and it pains me, but I wouldn’t like others to suffer like I have.

Many thanks for your help,

 

Answer:

From your description it would seem this falls under the category of “toeles” which is basically providing others with important information to save them from harm or loss, even when it involves what would otherwise be lashon hara, which is permitted.

However, the Chafetz Chaim requires a number of conditions to be met to invoke this rule:

  1. You know of it’s truth personally.
  2. It is a clear wrongdoing.
  3. You approached the wrongdoer first to try to rectify his ways.
  4. Not to exaggerate.
  5. Your intent is in fact to save people and not to get back at him.
  6. There is no other way to save people from him.
  7. The information shared will not cause him greater damage then what is befitting for his wrongdoing.

In your case it would seem these conditions are met, perhaps you could give him an ultimatum that you plan to share your experience with others. Also, as noted, you have to be careful to share only factual information, his being rude may not be such, and not to exaggerate his actions.

 

Sources:

Chafetz Chaim, Rechilus Klal 10

See also here, here, and here for similar cases.

 

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