Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: I told Reuven specific information regarding Shimon’s family. Eventually I heard that though it wasn’t a secret and his acquaintances know about it, Shimon was offended that this was discussed. Have I transgressed the prohibition of revealing secret information? I stress that Shimon doesn’t know that I spoke about him, and I am uncomfortable approaching him to ask for forgiveness. What could I do?

A: If there was no purpose in your relaying the information about Shimon’s family other than as a juicy topic of conversation, then the laws of lashon hara apply.  Even if an additional three people know these details, there are still many reasons why it would be assur to publicize them, especially since Shimon is offended that the information is circulating.

You must therefore repent by admitting the sin, being remorseful of the misdeed, and accepting upon yourself to do better in the future. You must also seek Shimon’s forgiveness. If you’re really uncomfortable, then you may wait for Erev Yom Kippur to ask for forgiveness in general.