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: I spend time every day with my lonely, depressed grandmother. During our visits, Savta has many anecdotes to share, including complaints about people who’ve wronged her in the recent or distant past, about various community imperfections and more. As the only one with whom Savta really shares these stories, I try to listen and let her vent her frustration. How can I react to her slanderous stories without offending her?
A1: If you see that airing out the stories will help your grandmother calm down and release her distress, then there is a heter to listen, but not to accept and believe the stories. (This heter may not be used for other situations, as each case must be judged individually.)
A2: If you’re having a casual conversation with your grandmother about people and communities, without the constructive purpose of helping her relieve her distress, you should change the topic of discussion. If you can’t manage to do so, you must gently and respectfully tell your grandmother that it is forbidden to say or listen to these things as they’re bordering on lashon hara.
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The views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.