Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: One of the advertising papers that we receive in the mail is obviously translated from Hebrew to English and has many grammar and spelling errors. I wanted to contact the supervisor to tell him about the substandard level of English, for the constructive purpose of protecting his paper’s reputation. (I think that I would thus be performing the mitzvah of “V’ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha,” because if I were in his place I’d be grateful to someone who’d bring this to my attention.) I am, however, concerned that my comments will be detrimental to the hired translator and that she may even be fired because of me.

What is the right thing to do?

A: Notifying a supervisor of poor translations in his paper, for the constructive purpose of getting the translator to do her job properly, does not constitute lashon hara and you should certainly do so. You do not have to be concerned that the translator will be fired because of your comments. Employers are not so quick to fire their employees, and would only do so after several attempts to get her to correct her work. (If, however, there is a slight chance that the boss will not follow halachic guidelines, and will fire her immediately without trying to rectify matters, you would be obligated to speak directly to the translator.)

Even if the boss decides to fire the translator, you would not be to blame.