Tzviki rubbed his eyes with his sleeve, as he rinsed the last of the dishwater from his hands. He glanced at the clock. There weren’t nearly enough hours left to get a proper night’s sleep. “It’s ridiculous that we have to stay up so late washing dishes for the whole school,” Tzviki grumbled to Uri, his partner in grime. “When we have kitchen duty, we should be allowed to wake up late for class the next day.”
Uri looked thoughtful as he hung a towel back in place. “Tzviki, you know what the problem is. This dish washing duty is taking double the amount of time it’s supposed to take. Momo and Yossi are supposed to be here helping us. If they were washing the dishes also, we would have finished a long time ago.”
“You have a point, Uri” Tzviki nodded. “And I have a way to guarantee that tomorrow night we’ll get back to the dorm at a normal time!”
The next morning, Yossi made his way into the cafeteria, blissfully unaware of the conversation which had taken place between Tzviki and Uri, the night before. As Yossi headed toward a table, he was surprised to hear a boy he barely knew call out “why can’t you do kitchen duty like everyone else in the school?!”
“Yeah, Yossi, you and Momo need to pitch in and help out!”
Yossi couldn’t figure out how these boys knew about his and Momo’s kitchen duty, or lack thereof. “What are you talking about?” Yossi spluttered.
Yossi followed several boys’ outstretched index fingers, and his gaze fell upon an enormous poster, with a simple yet powerful message. In big block letters, the sign announced “Yossi Cohen and Momo Ashkenazi broke the rules, and did not do kitchen duty last night.”
Yossi suddenly wished that he could hide behind an industrial size bottle of dish detergent. He and Momo ate a hurried breakfast, and ran out of the cafeteria. Needless to say, they made sure to show up for kitchen duty that night, and all four boys managed to finish the job quickly.
Did Tzviki and Uri act correctly, when they hung up a sign in the cafeteria?
Answer of Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, shlita:
It was forbidden to publish the names of the boys who didn’t clean, without warning them beforehand. If, however, Tzviki and Uri had warned Yossi and Momo that a sign would be forthcoming, and the guilty party persisted in neglecting kitchen duty a second and third time, under such circumstances it would be permitted to publicize their names.
We find a similar situation cited in the Talmud (Ketubot), which states that if a person did not financially support his young children, people would announce in the marketplace that even a cruel raven provides for his young, and this man is so cruel that he does not provide for his children.
Similarly, if a person does not pay his synagogue dues, it is permitted to publicize his name, in order to encourage him to pay. Nonetheless, it is preferable to publicize this information in an indirect manner. For example, one could hang up a sign with the names of the boys who had kitchen duty on a given day, with a check mark next to the names of the boys who did show up, and no notation next to the names of the boys who did not attend.