Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q:I sat with a number of women in the pediatrician’s waiting room. The door opened and just as a woman readied herself to go in with her baby, another mother, who hadn’t been waiting on line, suddenly showed up, went in, and closed the door behind her. Those still waiting were infuriated, and didn’t mince their words regarding the audacious woman. I didn’t join the conversation, but listened, and agreed with them in my heart. Did I thus transgress the sin of accepting lashon hara?

A:By agreeing to the negativity in your heart you transgressed the prohibition of kabbalas lashon hara, and the positive commandment of “B’tzedek tishpot es amisecha” — “judging your fellow Jew favorably” and more. You should have given the woman the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps she didn’t realize that others were ahead of her, maybe she had permission to see the doctor without an appointment, or maybe it was an emergency.

(It would have been permissible to approach the mother on her way out of the doctor’s office to alert her of the commotion she caused. If she was lacking a valid excuse, you could have admonished her politely, making her aware of the severity of the issue, and suggested that she ask the women forgiveness for the aggravation she caused them.)

You must repent by judging the woman favorably now, regretting the past sin, confessing it, and resolving to be careful in the future.