Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: A loud conversation between two women, containing poisonous lashon hara, including names, reached my ears in the course of a bus ride. As a young teenager, I felt uncomfortable reproaching them (even in a respectful manner), and I continued sitting in my seat, unsure of how to proceed.

Was my behavior acceptable? If I was meant to reproach them, how could I have done it so that it would have been well received rather than sounding offensive?

A: The mitzvah of “hoche’ach tochi’ach es amisecha” is a mitzvas aseh min haTorah, and it is your obligation to make the women aware of their stumbling over slanderous conversation. It is not a situation where one is required to humble oneself; rather, you should act upon the words “vayigbah libo b’darkei Hashem.” Practically speaking, you can say politely, “Excuse my meddling, but your conversation included names and I am worried that I am thus transgressing by listening to lashon hara.”

No doubt that if relayed gently and respectfully, the reproach will be accepted graciously.


The following questions and answers were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at office@hasholom.org or call 972-2 5379160.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hamodia.