Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: In a previous issue, I read the question about a supermarket employee who clocks in at a branch closer to home, thereby cheating her employer. The Rav advised her to send an anonymous letter of reproof.

I wanted to ask a general question about anonymous letters: Shouldn’t one suspect that this type of letter can be offensive to the receiver?

I imagine that if I would receive such a letter, I would be very hurt and uneasy that some individual observed my negative actions, deliberated over it, judged me, and probably turned to others for advice on how to approach me.

I would prefer to know who the person is and try to justify myself, or at least be aware of who I should be uncomfortable with.

A: How the receiver accepts your anonymous letter very much depends on the way it is written. If your letter is pleasantly written, explaining in a respectful manner why you decided not to have a face to face confrontation,  and that you believe that it must have been a misunderstanding that caused the subject to act the way she did, then your letter will not be offensive.

The receiver may be curious who wrote it, but will accept it with understanding. If, however, the letter is written in a critical, condescending manner, with angry overtones, then it is insulting and hurtful and involves many Torah prohibitions.

(As far as the question is concerned, it would seem that one should first investigate if perhaps the employee received permission from her employer to clock in at the supermarket closer to her home and include travel time in her salary. If it is the case, then the complaint against the employee with regards to gezel is largely irrelevant. The implications of the original question, however, are that in this case the boss wasn’t that lenient.)

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