Ask the Rav

Q:I read a question in this column about a secretary who takes care of personal business during work time, causing delays in typing the work that the questioner, her co-worker, must submit.

The Rav answered that the questioner must first present her complaint directly to the secretary and only if it did not have any effect, would it be permissible for her to bring her complaint to the administration.

I wanted to ask (from my personal experience working alongside a large staff of secretaries, where things like this actually do happen occasionally among the workers), maybe it would be worthwhile for the questioner to first warn the secretary before complaining to the administration, “If these delays continue, I will be forced to report about it to the boss.” I feel that if I were in the place of that secretary, I would prefer being forewarned and, this way, I would be given the opportunity to improve myself without their rushing to tattle on me to the administration.

A:Indeed there is a halachic requirement to first reprimand before going to complain about a person’s faults, as we explained in the previous answer that you referred to. But it does not appear that this obligation to rebuke requires the one who admonishes to use all the means at his disposal, even by way of adding a threat, in order to succeed in restoring the situation as it should be without having to come onto speaking lashon hara. Therefore, one can’t require the worker who is complaining about the secretary’s delays to act this way. However, it certainly is a worthwhile hiddur, an enhancement of the mitzvah, if someone can respond this way.