Q: I went to a gemach where, unfortunately, I was denied a loan. The owner of the gemach offered the excuse of my brother’s bad credit, as he had signed as a guarantor and not met the payments. He shared additional negativity about my brother with me, with the claim that he had a right to do so as I am a family member. I left, disappointed and hurt. For the sake of clarity, I’d like to know if it was correct of him to withhold a loan from me on account of my brother’s bad credit, and if a heter truly exists for relaying negative information about family members.
A: The owner of the gemach has no right to refuse a family member a loan on account of his brother’s bad credit, especially since in most cases a guarantor’s laxity in payment is not considered proof of untrustworthiness. However, if the owner has reason to think that brothers have similar habits in regard to money issues and debts, he may have a right to refuse a loan without being explicit about his misgivings.
The gemach owner had no right to relay negative information to you about your brother, and has thus transgressed the issur of lashon hara. You may not believe the slanderous information about your brother. On the contrary, you must believe that if in some way the information was valid, your brother had good reason for his actions.
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