Q: At the end of the year, I discussed with an acquaintance the idea of buying gifts for babysitters. My friend told me she was hoping to get her babysitter a nice present in appreciation for her devotion. I kept quiet, but I thought about my babysitter who, I believed, wasn’t worthy of my appreciation. My friend went on to elaborate about how happy she was for the opportunity to express her appreciation to her caring babysitter. I said nothing.
In retrospect, I thought that she may have understood my silence to mean that I had negative feelings regarding my babysitter. Would my lack of response constitute lashon hara? If so, how could I correct it?
A: It seems that your silence would not be considered lashon hara.
You refrained from replying, but that would not be considered expressing negativity regarding your babysitter, because your silence can be interpreted in various ways:
A) You believe your babysitter gets paid for her dedicated work and doesn’t need additional gifts.
B) You think that it is unnecessary to overdo it with expensive gifts.
C) You don’t think it is a good idea to institute gift-giving, so as not to obligate others who cannot afford to do so.
In addition, your silence can simply indicate your lack of willingness to express your views, or be prompted by various other considerations — the common denominator being that there is no negativity implied regarding the babysitter, and it is thus not considered lashon hara.
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