Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: Among our wedding gifts we received an expensive painting with high monetary and sentimental value. Unfortunately, it was stolen at the wedding and it is difficult for me to come to terms with the loss. This is especially so, since we discussed in advance with the manager of the hall — who is a religious person — the risk of our gifts being stolen by workers wandering around during the wedding, and he promised that the gifts would be locked up in a side room. At this point, I want to approach the owner of the hall and tell him about the manager (who obviously forgot to lock the room) to try to get reimbursement for the stolen item. Is it permitted or is it lashon hara? Must I consider that the manager may suffer (or even be laid off) because of my story?

A: The general practice is for the manager of wedding halls to give the baalei simchah access to a room during that night, and it is their own responsibility to keep the door locked. If this was the case in your situation, then the manager cannot be blamed and telling the story as it is wouldn’t be lashon hara, because he wasn’t at fault.

In your case, it seems that the manager took responsibility for the room with the gifts. It isn’t clear, however, who was meant to lock the door. If it was arranged that the manager would give a family member a key and so it was, then there is no room for complaint. You only have a claim if he took sole responsibility. In that case, approach him regarding compensation, and you may have to resolve it in a din Torah or borerus.

If all of the above doesn’t take you anywhere, or he doesn’t follow beis din’s ruling, then you have the legitimacy to speak to the hall owner about what happened, in accordance with the rules of lashon hara for constructive purposes.