Q: As a relative of a clinically depressed woman who suffers from minor emotional disorders, I often have to listen to her barrage of complaints and slander regarding all sorts of people, some of whom I am familiar with. My attempts at calming her down in the past, by minimizing the offense or judging the subjects favorably, have proven to provoke her anger.
Considering the emotional instability of the woman, does a heter exist to listen to her lashon hara?
A: A relative may act as a listening ear if the disturbed woman lets off steam and calms down by slandering those who, in her view, have offended her. It is obviously forbidden to believe her tales, or to show any sign of agreement with her on the matter. Given the fact that she is emotionally unstable and her perception of fact and fiction are blurred, it should be easy to listen without giving the tales authenticity.
Before listening to her, consider carefully if at that point in time the woman is in need of a listening ear. If there is no pressing need for it right then, then it is forbidden to listen to her tales of slander even if you don’t believe them.
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