Mishmeres Hasholom – Ask the Rav

Q: When I was in elementary school, I was once horrified to hear one of the girls utter terribly unclean language in front of a large group of friends. In total shock, I rushed with my friend to the teachers’ room and we reported what we’d heard to the teacher. The teacher didn’t interrogate too much. I have no idea what she did and how; all I know is that this girl was not accepted to the high school she’d applied for, and in the end she had to go to a high school out of town.

Recently, I heard that this former classmate later left the Bais Yaakov derech entirely, and I started worrying whether I had a part in her downslide. Maybe, due to our informing on her, she got a bad name, and that’s why she wasn’t accepted to high school — and from there it was a quick slide down the slippery slope.

I also reproach myself that my report to the teacher may not have been motivated purely by kinas ha’emes, zeal to condemn wrongdoing, but was also tainted by envy of the attention that the girl had drawn from her friends with her inappropriate language.

I wanted to ask if my friend and I are really to blame for what happened, and if we are, how can we make amends?

A: The questioner did the right thing by turning to the teacher at the time. She was obligated to report to the teacher what that girl had said. She bears absolutely no responsibility for the consequences that came about from her report and for the state of that girl today, especially since we can assume that the teacher acted properly — with deliberation, all due seriousness, and seeking counsel.

Nevertheless, the questioner must do teshuvah for the improper intent that was mixed in when she spoke to the teacher, which detracted from the pristine purposefulness of the to’eles. She must regret her wrongful intentions, confess her sin, and take upon herself not to repeat this lapse again in the future.

Unrelated to the above, it would be fitting for her to daven for the former classmate to succeed in strengthening her yiras Shamayim, and resuming proper observance of Torah and mitzvos.

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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