Mishmeres HaSholom – Ask the Rav

Q: As a teacher in the younger division of our school, am I permitted to ask friends who teach older grades how my former students are doing? I’m interested in their progress because of the time and energy I invested in the girls and my emotional connection with them. I don’t think there is any practical purpose in the discussion (maybe I could deduce some lessons), but I would really like to keep up with their progress and achievement while avoiding any prohibitions.

A: Under normal circumstances, there is no purpose in such discussions, and therefore no heter exists for speaking lashon hara in order to deduce lessons. You must take into account that such talk may well end up in forbidden speech, and therefore you should not broach the subject if there is a chance that you’ll hear negative information.

In most cases teachers of younger grades are aware of how former students are doing in general, and are interested in specific details.

If you assume that you’ll hear positive feedback, you may inquire about a student’s development and progress in a particular area. Information as such may encourage you to continue to invest your time and energy for your students’ benefit. Your inquiry must include a clause that no lashon hara be mentioned.

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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