Rechilus has particular application to the business world because it is common for customers and vendors to traffic information to advance their commercial position. A vendor looking for his customer’s favor might reveal what the customer’s competitors have said about him or done to him. An employee might try to ingratiate himself to his supervisor by reporting what his fellow employees are saying about him, positioning himself as the boss’s ally and confidant.
Whatever the case, it is forbidden to speak rechilus, even if it means losing one’s job. If an employee is pressured by his supervisor to reveal rechilus and his refusal will place him under suspicion as an accomplice in the alleged “crime,” he is required to accept that consequence and remain silent. As the Chofetz Chaim notes, a Jew is required to surrender all his possessions rather than transgress a single negative commandment. To speak rechilus is as much a Torah prohibition as eating ham.
The Chofetz Chaim adds that one may certainly not speak rechilus if the consequence is embarrassment or derision. He cites the famous Talmudic passage (quoted above in Day 58) where our Sages apply the verse “And those who love Him are like the sun going forth in its strength” (Shoftim 5:31), to a person who remains silent in the face of insult.
Previously, the Chofetz Chaim declared that it is better to be considered a fool one’s entire life on this world than to be considered a fool for one moment before the King of all kings. Here, he reminds us that when suffering shame or ridicule for refusing to speak rechilus, one earns the great distinction of being called an oheiv Hashem, one who loves Hashem. Furthermore, though he is humiliated now, he is assured that ultimately he will be glorified, not diminished. Our Sages grant this assurance to anyone who bears insult in silence. Surely, says the Chofetz Chaim, this applies to someone who suffers disgrace for the sake of a mitzvah — in this case, the mitzvah of shmiras halashon.