Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: My workmates and I received bonus pay for Yom Tov. One staff member was absent that day. A worker who lives in his neighborhood was trusted to bring him his envelope. Though I have no concrete proof for my suspicion, I suspect that my co-worker who was appointed messenger pocketed the money.

I am considering approaching the absent worker to find out if he did indeed receive the bonus pay before Yom Tov. My intentions are l’toeles, so that if the money hasn’t been passed on, the matter could be investigated.

Must I take into account machlokes, lashon hara, or rechilus that could come about because of my inquiry?

A: Your concern for machlokes and other transgressions that could result from your inquiry regarding the bonus envelope is well founded. Take caution before acting in accordance with the following options:

  1. If you were put in charge of the distribution of the bonus, you should investigate the matter even if it is based on a far-fetched suspicion. However, you may not question the messenger or the receiver directly. Instead, find an opportune time to investigate the matter indirectly. You could say, “What did you buy with the bonus pay?” or “Were you satisfied with the bonus pay?” You can thus verify if the check was received without transgressing or provoking machlokes.
  2. If you are simply a co-worker and you weren’t responsible for distributing the envelopes, then, only if the suspicion is reasonable and well-founded should you investigate the matter in an indirect way, as delineated above.

The questions and answers above were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at office@hasholom.org or call 972-2 5379160.

The views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.