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 work as a steady mother’s helper. Sometimes, the lady I work for tells me negative things about her children in their presence. She tells me about their lack of interest in helping, their irresponsibility or their chutzpah. I know it is forbidden for me to listen and believe the lashon hara. I also feel uncomfortable in front of the children, who are embarrassed by the insults. It is difficult for me to admonish the mother, who is much older than I am. What should I do?
A: There is generally no constructive purpose in these conversations, and it is therefore forbidden for the mother to make these comments to you. You must admonish her, even if it is uncomfortable for you.
There are things, however, which do need to be told for a constructive purpose. This could be information you need to know about a specific child who can do dangerous things or break and damage items. Sometimes the mother must say this in the child’s presence — but not in front of his/her siblings — as long as you’re mindful of the conditions delineated by the Chofetz Chaim.
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The views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.