Irrelevant, But Permissible

Irrelevant, But Permissible

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  • August 30, 2017

In the cases discussed thus far, the determining factor in making it permissible to listen to negative speech was relevance. If the information is important, in a constructive sense, for the listener to hear, it is proper for him to give his attention to what is being spoken, and at times to even solicit such information.

There are times when halacha permits listening to negative information which is of no relevance to the listener or any of his acquaintances. Where the speaker feels the need to express his anger or frustration for relief of emotional pain, one is doing an act of chesed (kindness) by hearing the person out and expressing understanding of his feelings. If the listener feels that the speaker can be made to understand how he misjudged the person responsible for his frustration, he is obligated to do so. (Often, however, a person expressing his frustrations is in need of empathy and is not open to logic. At a later point, after the speaker has calmed down, the listener could approach him and attempt to explain how he may have misunderstood the situation.)

Care must be taken to keep the speaker from wandering from the matter at hand, and speaking irrelevantly about other faults of the one whom he feels has wronged him. Furthermore, one listening in such a situation must take care not to accept what he hears as fact.