Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q:              I wanted to surprise our principal in honor of her daughter’s engagement and bought a decorated cake to celebrate the occasion with a party in the teachers’ room. In the morning I put the cake on a desk in a corner of the room and left for my classroom.

Upon my return during recess time, I was horrified to see a heavy sack of books and notebooks that someone had piled onto the frosted cake. Out of frustration I was about to open the bag to see who the culprit was, when I realized that it may be prohibited. Was it indeed forbidden to check who ruined my cake?

A:              Generally speaking there is a to’eles (constructive purpose) in knowing who was responsible for a mess up. Therefore, if the contents of the bag that was dumped on the cake do not seem private or confidential, you can check and see whom it belongs to. Yet, remember that it is forbidden to judge the owner of the bag harshly or bear a grudge against her.

In this particular incident, you can give her the benefit of the doubt by assuming that 1) the owner of the bag didn’t notice the cake or 2) she sent it with a student and didn’t put it there herself or 3) she stored it elsewhere and it was transferred to the desk by someone else… and more.

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.