Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: In a previous issue I read the Rav’s reply regarding a woman who believes her neighbor’s babysitter is not doing her job properly. The Rav replied that if this continues the woman should tell her neighbor about it, for constructive purposes.

Recently I had a similar she’eilah. My neighbor hired a babysitter to come to her home, and I’ve been seeing and hearing things that upset me. From the abovementioned answer, I understand that I should apprise my neighbor of what is going on.

I am, however, wondering if it would be correct to approach the babysitter directly and reprove her first, as brought down by the Chofetz Chaim in the conditions of lashon hara l’toeles. I must note that I don’t know this babysitter personally, and have no idea whether such a conversation would prove constructive or destructive.

 

A: Because you didn’t specify what it is in the babysitter’s actions that upset you, and the answer is dependent upon these specific details, I can only delineate the general rules.

If the problems with the babysitter stem from her lack of awareness, and it is reasonable to assume that she’d be willing to improve, then it is proper to approach her before speaking to your neighbor. If such is the case, after reproaching her, you would be obligated to keep tabs on the babysitter and see that she has indeed improved.

If, however, the problems result from a lackadaisical attitude towards her job, i.e., irresponsibility, personality, etc., you can assume that your reproof won’t get her to do better at her job. What will happen is that she’ll be careful in the future that you don’t get wind of what is going on. If such is the case then you must speak to your neighbor directly, while being careful to gently disclose a minimal amount of information, and to leave room for doubt.


 

The following questions and answers 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 opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hamodia.