Q: I traveled to the beach aboard a bus that was dilapidated and uncomfortable, with air conditioning that was in poor working order. The travelers were grumbling, protesting that such conditions were intolerable during a heat wave. I joined the crowd on the bus and announced that it wasn’t the first time that this bus company was providing such service, and that it was clearly an act against the frum community. I added that drivers who agree to drive old buses receive bonus pay. (It turned out that this piece of information was incorrect, and is thus hotzaas shem ra about the driver.)
Later on along the way, I felt the driver glaring angrily at me. He may have been frustrated with my continuous complaints about the air conditioning, or may have been offended by my claim against drivers.
I regret what I said and I’m afraid that I transgressed with forbidden speech, but I don’t know who the driver was and therefore can’t apologize. What should I do?
A: The negativity that you aired on the bus was aimed at the bus company in general and the driver in particular. Regarding the driver, the way to repent is by charatah, viduy and kabbalah al ha’asid. Regarding the bus company, if the complaints against it are common knowledge, it may be that you didn’t violate the halachah. This is especially true if your goal was to remedy a situation and to fight against authorities who are making light of the frum community’s needs.
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