Q: Sometimes I have a situation that necessitates lashon hara l’toeles and meets the conditions delineated by the Chofetz Chaim, aside from the condition of “first giving tochachah directly.” There are people I wouldn’t dare admonish, e.g., my employer or an older authority whom I can’t approach directly. I do, however, believe that speaking to them personally might influence them and improve the situation.
Is it permissible for me to arrange this by discussing it with other people, or does this missing condition invalidate the heter to speak for a constructive purpose?
A: The situation you describe, where it is possible that admonishing people directly may impress upon them the need to correct their wrongs, obligates you to employ the condition of tochachah, or refrain from speaking lashon hara.
If there is no way that you can approach them directly, you must choose one of the following options:
Write them a letter — even anonymously — taking precaution that they are the only ones who will have access to the letter.
Tochachah b’remez: If you take the case of your employer, for example, you can tell him in passing about a person who suffered some type of damage because of a misunderstanding with his boss. In this way, your hint is quite clear and includes reproach regarding his behavior.
It is only after you’ve tried following the above advice, and alternative options, and still didn’t manage to find a solution to the problem, that you are permitted to speak to another person, while adhering to the conditions of lashon hara l’toeles.
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