Mishmeres Hasholom – Ask the Rav

Q: At the end of the year, I discussed the idea of buying gifts for babysitters with an acquaintance. My friend told me she was hoping to get her babysitter a nice present in appreciation for her devotion. I kept quiet, but in my heart I thought about my babysitter who I believed wasn’t worthy of my appreciation. My friend went on to elaborate about how happy she was for the opportunity to express her appreciation to her caring babysitter. I said nothing.

In retrospect, I thought that she may have understood my silence to mean that I had negative feelings regarding my babysitter. Was my lack of response considered lashon hara? If so, how could I correct it?

A: It seems that your silence would not be considered lashon hara.

Though you refrained from replying, it wouldn’t be considered expressing negativity about your babysitter, because your silence can be interpreted in various ways.

a) You believe your babysitter gets paid for her dedicated work, and doesn’t need additional gifts; b) You think that it is unnecessary to overdo it with expensive gifts; c) You don’t think it is a good idea to institute gift-giving, so as not to obligate others who cannot afford to do so.

In addition, your silence can simply point to your lack of willingness to express your views, or various other causes, the common denominator being that there is no negativity implied regarding the babysitter, and it is thus not considered lashon hara.

The questions and answers above were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at office@hasholom.org or call 972-2 5379160.

The views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.

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