Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: Is it permissible to lodge a complaint against a chareidi public bus driver who displays impatience and disdain towards the passengers? For example, he hastily closes the doors and drives off, ignoring the elderly people and women with strollers who have not yet managed to get off the bus. Do I have to be concerned that he may lose his livelihood because of my complaint, and therefore, remain silent?

A: According to the questioner’s description, the driver’s conduct is very serious and can cause real damage, even dangerous situations. It is certainly prohibited to ignore the matter and remain silent, because that would constitute violation of the mitzvas lo saaseh of “Do not stand idly by while your fellow’s blood is spilt” and other mitzvos in the Torah. Therefore, it is clear that one should complain to the company and would not need to take into account the fact that he may lose his job.

Nevertheless, one of the conditions mentioned in Sefer Chofetz Chaim for lashon hara l’to’eles is to attempt to achieve the same constructive purpose without speaking lashon hara. Therefore, this is the place to carry out what Chazal said, “We do not punish without forewarning.”

The questioner should approach the driver and say that this conduct is intolerable and should add that this is a final warning before submitting a complaint to the bus company managers, and if that doesn’t help, either, a complaint to the Department of Transportation, and so on.

This warning is necessary only if it is feasible to track the driver and see if he has stopped his unacceptable habit, such as when the driver is the steady driver on a certain line. If there is no way to keep track of him, it would appear that the questioner should complain to the company without giving advance warning.

If the company managers ask the complainant to testify against the driver so that he can be brought to trial, one should check the driver’s conduct again, since it is possible that he already learned his lesson just by virtue of the complaint. If so, there would be no need to testify against him. The matter hinges on the situation and surrounding circumstances.

By the way, the questioner emphasizes that the driver is chareidi, but practically speaking, there would apparently be no difference in the halachah whether the driver was chareidi, religious, or, chalilah, not Torah observant at all.

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.