Halachic queries answered by Harav Menachem Mendel Fuchs, shlita, Menahel Ruchani of Mishmeres HaSholom, posek in the Eidah HaChareidis and Rav of Kiryas Shomrei HaChomos
Q: From an early age, I’ve tried to steer clear of lashon hara and other forms of forbidden speech. Since my recent marriage I’m at a loss, because my mother-in-law isn’t mindful of lashon hara. We visit my husband’s parents often, and I don’t know how to react to the slanderous conversations. I feel uncomfortable about voicing indirect criticism because of my status as a new daughter-in-law. I prefer not to broach the subject with my husband, as it may be interpreted as an insult against his mother. How should I deal with this situation?
A: The good news is that your tricky situation will probably persist for a maximum of three occasions. Sooner or later, your mother-in-law will realize that when you’re around, gossip is to be avoided. Though you should take care to keep away from direct remarks, express your dissatisfaction regarding lashon hara in one of three ways:
- Get up from the table with the excuse that you’re getting something, or checking to see if someone is knocking, etc.
- Pretend you’re tired or falling asleep.
- Change the topic of conversation as naturally as you can. You can share a thought on the parashah or a story you just remembered. You can talk about the weather, or neighborhood news. Furthermore, until they stop speaking lashon hara in your presence, remember that you may not believe anything they discuss. The merit of shemiras halashon will no doubt produce the desired results of peace and unity.
The questions and answers above were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 972-2 5379160.
The views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.