Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav – October 25, 2013

Q: My classmates are misbehaving in a substitute’s class, and I feel that she’s really offended by it. I’m especially bothered by their behavior towards this particular teacher, because I heard that her father is really not well.

I wanted to know if it is permissible for me to tell my classmates about the father’s illness (the family is keeping it secret) so that they will be more considerate of her feelings and try not to upset her.

A: The fact that the family is keeping their father’s illness secret is reason enough for it to be forbidden to reveal the information to your friends, even with the goal of improving things for your teacher and eliminating disturbances in her class.

Try to find other ways to explain to your classmates the severity of the sins they are committing daily by disrupting her class. You can tell them that by hurting her they are transgressing the prohibition of onaas devarim — causing pain with words, and the positive commandments of v’ahavta — loving one’s fellow Jew and v’halachta b’drachav — walking in Hashem’s ways. It also is considered rebellion against school authority, which requires that students behave during lessons, and more. In addition, they should be reminded that causing others pain is punishable in This World and The Next. With Hashem’s help, your words will have the desired effect and the girls will improve their behavior.