Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: At a sheva brachos at the home of my in-laws, my husband’s aunt sat down next to me and we enjoyed a friendly conversation. In the course of the conversation, she began speaking negatively about her boss (whom I know), and I felt trapped. As she is a lot older than I am, and is considered a prestigious woman, I didn’t feel it was appropriate for me to reprimand her, or to stop the conversation. The sheva brachos was in full swing. Since I was in the seat next to this aunt, I could not sneak out without offending her. Eventually the topic of discussion turned to safer grounds, but I was left with the bitter taste of failure in my mouth. What was I meant to do in this situation?
A: The predicament described is a common one. People often find themselves stuck in conversations of lashon hara which result in the transgression of serious sins. It is unquestionably forbidden to take part in such conversation, and one can opt for one of the following:

You can courageously, yet gently say, “Maybe we should ask a Rav before we discuss this.”

You can try to change the subject. This is usually not difficult to do spontaneously, as there are many other things to discuss, and you can always revert to discussing the weather.

You can leave on the pretense of an urgent message or a quick check on the children.

If all else fails, (though it is very unlikely to happen), you should close your ears, if possible.

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