Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: A while ago I had a three-way phone conversation with my high-school friends and ended up in an uncomfortable situation. At some point in the discussion, assuming that I had hung up, my friends began discussing what I had said, as well as my personality, in a demeaning way. While they had no clue that I was on the line, I found myself holding the receiver, listening in shock to the negativity they were airing about me.

Later on I felt guilty for snooping in on the conversation. I calmed myself with the fact that my listening was l’to’eles; because by hearing my friends’ opinion of me I could correct my faults. Is the above considered a transgression? What can I do after the fact?

A: Aside from the serious issurim of lashon hara that they transgressed, your friends acted carelessly by not verifying that you had indeed hung up. You, however, took no action to listen in on the conversation. It is also reasonable to assume that subconsciously you were aware that listening in would be to your benefit — l’to’eles. For these and other reasons, it seems that you did not transgress the issur of lashon hara or the cherem of Rabbeinu Gershom (to eavesdrop).

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.