Q: Because of the many married couples in our family, bli ayin hara, there is naturally much comparison between couples regarding our parents’ assistance, moving in for Shabbos and Yom Tov, and more. It often happens that my sister will complain that she is offended when told that she isn’t invited for Shabbos for lack of room; that my parents help her less than they do others; that she feels she deserves more, and so on.
Is it permissible to listen to these seemingly justified complaints, and what can I answer?
A: Such complaints are generally made either: 1. With the goal of rectifying a wrong (and, in this case, ensuring there’s justice in the family), or, 2. With no desire to improve the situation, usually stemming from jealousy of others who are more successful.
In both cases, these complaints are to some degree based on imagination, perception and/or lack of knowledge of the facts.
In light of the above, there would be great to’eles in listening to your sister’s complaints, as it is a great mitzvah to help family members live together peacefully. You can do this by verifying grievances, clarifying matters to the complainers or discussing the misunderstanding with your parents. In this manner it would be permissible to listen for the constructive purpose of trying to set things straight. It is, however, forbidden to believe that any real injustice was done. You may only be meichish.
If you’re confident that this isn’t a matter of unfairness, and your sister is just complaining (out of jealousy, etc.) and you won’t get her to calm down, then there is no heter to listen. You must change the subject so that she understands that you don’t want to hear lashon hara. (If you feel she is really suffering, and she has no other way to calm down, there may be a case for leniency.)
The questions and answers were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at email@example.com or call 972-2 5379160.
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