Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: In desperate need of a particular medicine, I contacted a neighborhood gemach. When the owner told me that they were out of that medicine, I said, “Perhaps someone borrowed it and didn’t return it? I’d be happy to get the names of the people who borrowed that item so that I could try to call them.” They gave me the names, and I called and managed to procure the necessary medicine.

Later, I thought that perhaps I didn’t act properly, especially since I told the people I called that I received their names from the gemach.

Did I indeed transgress? If so, how can I correct my wrong?

A: It is not clear from the question if it is a matter of an exaggerated delay on the part of the people who borrowed the medicine, or just a slight delay. If it is a slight delay, which is wont to happen and is reasonable, then it does not constitute negativity about the borrowers.

It would also not constitute rechilus if the person looking for the medication tells the borrower that he received the details from the gemach, because it is obvious to all that no wrong was done.

If, however, it is a matter of a significant and exaggerated delay on the borrower’s part and the gemach owners relayed this information to the person in need of the medicine, then it does constitute transgression, as follows: The gemach owner spoke lashon hara about the borrowers, and the individual looking for the medicine spoke rechilus about the gemach owner by telling people that he gave them their names and said that they were late with the return of the medicine (since the gemach owner presumably didn’t agree that the person making the calls should tell them that he complained about the considerable delay).

There was no heter here of a constructive benefit, because the owner should have called the borrowers on his own to ask for the medicine. It is for these reasons that the owner of the gemach and the individual looking for the medicine must repent, by admitting, remorse, and accepting to do better in the future.

The gemach owner should also ask forgiveness of the borrowers who were delayed, because of the offense and shame they endured, and the individual looking for the medicine must ask forgiveness of the gemach owner for revealing to the borrowers that he complained about them to him.

The questions and answers above 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.