Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

How's He Doing?

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

"Do you know Nachor's grandson Lavan?" asked Yaakov. "We know him," they replied. "HaShalom lo?" retorted Yaakov. "Shalom!" they responded, "and here is his daughter Rachel coming with the sheep." (Bereshith 29:5-6)

Although this appears to be merely an innocent conversation, much was happening behind the scenes in this dialogue. When Yaakov asked regarding Lavan, "HaShalom lo?" he wasn't merely inquiring about Lavan's welfare; he was trying to determine whether Lavan was a man of peace (shalom), or whether he was prone to arguments and fights. The other shepherds did not wish to lie by saying that Lavan was a man of peace, yet neither did they want to tell the truth, for it was not a pleasant truth they had to tell. Therefore they responded with a single word, "Shalom," implying that a general state of peace reigned in the world. Immediately thereafter they changed the subject, pointing out that Rachel was coming.1

When people meet someone who lives in the same town as their friends or relatives, it is common to inquire about the current spiritual situation of those they know there. The answer one may give to such inquiries depends on the intention of the person asking. If he hopes, through the information he receives, to be able to help or correct the person about whom he is inquiring, then one is obligated to respond truthfully, even if the response involves derogatory information. If he is asking only out of curiosity, it is forbidden to say anything derogatory about the subject of the question. One must try to find some way to avoid answering the question without casting the subject of the question in a negative light.2

If we are aware that someone has stolen from or otherwise injured another person, we are obligated to display a passion for the truth, revealing the facts to those who are in a position to rectify the situation.3 However, in a case in which one person has refused to do a favor for another, but no one has actually been damaged, it is forbidden to tell others what happened, for that would be considered lashon hara.4


1. Moshav Zekeinim on Bereshith 29:5-6.

2. Chofetz Chaim 4:11, footnote.

3. Sha'arei Teshuvah 3:221.

4. Chofetz Chaim 5:1.


Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 

ARTICLES ON VAESCHANAN AND TU BEAV:

View Complete List

The Wiser We Will Be
Rabbi Label Lam - 5772

Harpstrings of the Heart
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5773

Kinah for Tisha BAv
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Opposites Are Equal (or: Of Parents and Eggs)
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5771

Where Torah Resides
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

Moshe's Lesson of Acceptance
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5770

Looking for a Chavrusah?

How Wise We Would Be
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

The Long Journey to the Heart
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

At Peace With Itself
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

ArtScroll

Pleading In Comfort
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5760

The Good, the Bad and the Beloved
Shlomo Katz - 5774

Yearning for Eretz Yirsroel
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

> Down to Earth Spirituality
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5755

Birth of a Land
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

The Laws of Relaxation
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5764

Rejoicing in a Month of Misfortune: Part 1
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information