Q: In the school where I teach, as a part-time teacher for secular subjects, it is acceptable to hold meetings for all the teachers, in order to review the girls’ progress. During these meetings I’m drawn into discussions of problematic issues which are related l’toeles, but serve no purpose for me personally. Sometimes, I hear a negative comment about a student who displays no difficulties in my class, and I find it hard to disregard. I leave these meetings with a heavy heart, and I feel like I’m walking a tightrope, treading between what is allowed and what would be considered lashon hara. What am I meant to do?
A: You’re worried about listening to negative information regarding students who do well in your class. You feel that maybe the heter of listening to lashon hara l’toles does not apply in this instance.
It is appropriate for you to listen to the evaluations of students, so that if a problem would arise during your class you would know how to react.
At the same time, you could tell your co-teachers of their students’ good behavior in your class, thus exposing positive aspects of those students. Inasmuch as it is permissible and pertinent for you to listen to all the information l’toeles regarding your students, it is forbidden for you to believe the facts. You may only suspect that there may be some truth to them.
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The views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.