Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: A neighbor gave me regards from my sister-in-law, whom she had met the day before in an apparel shop in town. When I heard this, the blood rushed to my head. I had called this sister-in-law earlier that very day, and literally begged her to babysit for my baby for two hours in the afternoon, when I had a dentist appointment. My sister-in-law apologized and said that she had a terrible headache and was really sick in bed.

My neighbor couldn’t have known that when she was passing on the information about my sister-in-law, she was pressing the wrong buttons for me. She was letting me know my sister-in-law had given me an excuse to get out of babysitting, and went out shopping instead.

Is this bit of information, told in innocence, considered lashon hara?

If so, how can my neighbor and I rectify matters?

A: Your neighbor has not transgressed any prohibitions, because she had no idea that her words could be rechilus or cause any resentment. She was not at fault.

You, on the other, did transgress by accepting rechilus. One may not accept or believe unintentional lashon hara or rechilus. Especially in this particular case when you could have easily given her the benefit of the doubt. It is very likely that when you called your sister-in-law in the morning she was really lying in bed with a severe headache and when she felt a little better she went shopping in order to air out, and for other reasons.

You have to eradicate the negative thoughts about her from your heart  and judge her favorably, and repent for the transgression of accepting rechilus, against halachah.