Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: While speaking to me in private, my teacher asked about my social status in class. This brought up a specific topic, which led to my opinion that there are girls who are not conducting themselves properly. The teacher wanted to know the names of the girls, and I, of course, shared them with her. Later, I began wondering if it was a transgression of lashon hara, because if I hadn’t shared the names, the teacher could have reproached the class at large about it and the specific girls would have understood that she was referring to them.

A: You acted correctly. A teacher who hears that girls are not conducting themselves properly in a specific area is generally obligated to know who they are in order to decide how to deal with the issue. Bringing up the topic for the whole class is not always the right thing to do. On the contrary, in most cases this approach is bound to fail for a number of reasons:

It can cause embarrassment to the relevant girls.

It can cause these girls to protest.

It can cause mockery and disrespect against the teacher.

Publicizing the negative behavior can cause it to intensify and not to decrease.

In most cases, one needs to delve into the root of the matter.

Most cases depend on the personalities of the girls involved and details related to their families and environment.

In many cases, the parents or others should be involved in the situation.

Based on all the above, and additional reasons, you did the right thing by sharing the names of the girls with the teacher, obviously intending the constructive purpose as delineated by the Chofetz Chaim in the laws of lashon hara l’to’eles.

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 views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.

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