Mishmeres HaSholom – Ask the Rav

Q: At the beginning of the school year, I met a friend whose daughter is a classmate of my nine-year-old daughter. In the course of our casual conversation, the mother inquired about their teachers. She asked me, “How are they working out?” “Is the math teacher doing a good job?” and, “Did you hear about how they acted up in the substitute’s class?”

At the time, I answered her, assuming it was a conversation l’toeles. In hindsight, however, I regret it. Is general inquiry about teachers permissible? If not, how could I have replied without insulting my friend?

A: Mothers may inquire about what is going on in a child’s classroom for constructive purposes as long as they adhere to the halachic conditions. In addition, if major problems crop up and become common knowledge, the heter to discuss the issue is sometimes simpler (while following halachic guidelines). There is no justification for a lengthy conversation which can easily border on lashon hara without any constructive purpose. You must avoid answering, or just brush off this type of query with an innocent answer like, “It seems okay to me.”

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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