Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: An acquaintance asked me to deliver an important document to my sister-in-law. She made it clear that it was imperative that I deliver it immediately and request of my sister-in-law to pass it on to its destination without delay. I did as I was asked. To my consternation, my sister-in-law forgot to deliver the document and it did not reach its destination in time.

The aforementioned acquaintance was obviously upset with me and it is distressing to be the one to have let her down. I would feel more comfortable telling her that I did my duty and that I am therefore not to blame. Saying so, however, will cause her to blame my sister-in-law, who neglected to follow through with the task. What am I permitted to say to rid myself of the accusation?

A: The answer to your question hinges upon one important point: Did you tell your sister-in-law that it was urgent that she deliver the document immediately? If you did and nonetheless your sister-in-law neglected to do so, it is halachically acceptable to shift the blame by saying, “I delivered the document to my sister-in-law without delay.” It would be commendable to add that there must have been good reason for your sister-in-law’s delay in delivering the document. Nevertheless, middas hachassidus dictates that it is fitting to take the blame upon yourself, if possible.

If you did not specify to your sister-in-law the urgency of the matter, then you should tell your acquaintance so: “Although I delivered the document immediately, I forgot to convey the urgency of the matter to my sister-in-law.”


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.