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Lashan hara


If on social media someone asks about the quality of an item or if a store sells good or bad quality can you answer it’s not good quality ?


Here is an answer to a similar question posed to Horav Yitzchok Berkowitz shlit”a.

Can I submit feedback on Amazon or on B&H Photo (a large Jewish electronics store) about a camera I bought? I want to give it two out of five stars, and say ‘Was a nice camera until it died after three months of use.’

R’ Y. Berkovits wrote: Only if you satisfy the requirements of toeles. We once had a defective product. After much trouble with it, we finally found a site that had lots of other people with the same problem. If we would have seen the site first, we would never have bought it. So yes there is a toeles, but it has to be done in a way that is halachically correct. The issue here is causing damage with words, which is included in lashon hara, and also included in the issur of being gorem nezek lichatchila. [B’pashtus it is assur lechatchila to cause damage even to goyim.] Therefore, you have to be very factual and you can’t exaggerate (included not using opinionated negative words like ‘terrible’ or ‘awful’). You also have to be motivated by wanting to help people avoid the pain you went though, and not by wanting to get revenge. Still, this is a very unscientific approach to evaluating a product. Just because yours was defective doesn’t mean others are defective too. If you have reason to believe that you will be one of the only ones rating the product, it would not be a good idea. Even if lots of people are rating it, maybe only people with problems are weighing in? [I would hope that the people reading the feedback understand this and only compare products with similar amount of feedback.] There is also a fear that people will take the feedback on a product and reflect it on the whole store. Be very careful to state that it is an issue with the product alone (if true). As with most cases of toeles, there is the possibility of bringing about unwarranted damage. If you satisfy the requirements, and after thinking it though determine that the the toeles will probably be attained while the possible negative effects will not, it is right to go ahead and tell. That seems to be the case here.


Best Wishes

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