The Good Snitch


Dear Rabbi,

A friend asked my opinion about his starting a business relationship with someone I think is disingenuous and a conflict entrepreneur. My friend knows I stay away from that person, without any social media contact as well. But my friend is very enthusiastic to do a deal with him and asked me why I don’t have contact with him.

If I were to be honest I would tell him, but it would be mostly negative and I don’t want to be a “snitch.” However, he keeps pressing me and I feel like I’m being dishonest by not telling him what I really think. He respects my opinion. How much can I say without it transgressing the Jewish laws and spirit that teach not speaking negatively against another person?

Thank you.



  1. Indeed, negative harmful speech is seen in Judaism as one of the most destructive and insidious problems that exist in the world. Our Sages teach, “Life and death are potentially determined by one’s words.”

    In the case you ask about, as long as you are careful about what you say and how you say it, there are no problems in explaining to your friend why you think this relationship is a bad idea. On the contrary, due to your legitimate concerns, not only is it not prohibited, but it is actually a mitzvah to do so. However, you must be careful not to exaggerate any negative trait in any way, and to say something negative only if you know it from personal experience. If you feel that you must add more information that you do not have first-hand knowledge of, you must preface it by telling your friend that you heard this from someone else.

    The final thing that you must be careful about is not to say more than is necessary. This means that if you feel that your friend has understood you clearly and will not get involved with the person, it is not permitted to continue telling him more details. The same is true if it is clear that despite whatever you tell him he will not listen to you, you should stop explaining why you think it is a bad idea for his business relation with that person.

    I hope your relationship with your friend continues and is even strengthened and that your friend makes the right decision with or without your efforts. You can only do so much, but at least it is admirable and praiseworthy that you are making every effort to do the right thing.

    Best wishes from the Team