Posts tagged " friendship "

My friend rejects social distancing – I don’t want to offend him

May 27th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Dear Rabbi & Susan,

I am caught between a rock and a hard spot.  There is a member of our community who does not believe in social distancing or abiding by any of the government-mandated precautions against COVID-19.   While my father was in the hospital, I was very firm with him about not visiting my home.  To gain access to the hospital after Shabbat, I would need to pass the hospital regimen and wanted to take no risks.

Secondly, the fellow who I am dating takes social distancing seriously.   Finally, others of my friends are frowning upon this person’s disregard for following guidelines and testing everyone and the protocols in place.

This person showed up at my house, on Shabbat, with no warning.  I answered the door and I was shocked to find him there. The person just stood there until I would allow him in so I ushered him to the deck.   He then invited me for an upcoming holiday lunch and I told him that I would attend if we were outside.  Now, I think I have made a mistake in accepting the invitation.   

The situation has upset the person who I am dating and I am afraid to tell any of my other friends. This person will be angry if I back out of the invitation. 

What should I do? 

Confused

Dear Confused,

Despite the risk of sounding harsh, we must tell you that you are not caught between a rock and a hard spot. You yourself actively crawled down into a hard spot and then you carefully and diligently reached for a rock and pulled it down against you making sure to wedge it firmly into place.  Rocks and hard spots are not malign machines that autonomously track you down.  Own it!  You created this awkward situation.  Right?  Right!

So the real question is not how to get out of this one; it’s how to stop seeking out rocks and hard spots to wiggle into.

Regardless of what this person, let’s call him Mr. X, believes about corona, and regardless of the extent to which others ‘frown’ at Mr. X, as you put it,  it is only his behavior and your response that matters.  So the relevant portion of your letter starts with him showing up unexpectedly on your doorstep on Shabbat. 

Imagine that someone threatens to amputate his pinky unless you agree to date him. That places you under no moral obligation to comply.  This person showed up at your door and you interpreted his standing there as a  threat to cut off his pinky finger unless you invited him in.  Actually, he stood there long enough to tacitly inform you he’d be offended not to be invited in, but it’s the same idea, of course.  What you did not say was, “I wish I could invite you in, I really do, but while these corona circumstances exist, I am not going to, so have a good Shabbat and I look forward to talking with you on the phone tonight.”  Instead, you opened the door in a wide invitation and Mr. X naturally sauntered serenely into your house. You did it.

Here’s another point to consider. Why is the extent to which others ‘frown’ at Mr. X, relevant?  It is only his behavior and your reaction that matters. Your choices might be influenced by the concerns of the man you are dating or your other friends, but in the final analysis, you need to decide how you feel about social distancing, masks and everything else that is directing our lives today. You, Miss Concerned, need to take control of your own life.

It doesn’t matter whether accepting the lunch invitation was a mistake or whether you’ve just changed your mind about wanting to go. You simply notify Mr. X by phone or text that you regret the change in plans but you will, after all, not be able to join him for lunch.  Will Mr. X threaten to cut off another of his remaining fingers by choosing to be unhappy, offended,  hurt or angry by your change of mind?  He gets to choose his own reaction.  Incidentally, not respecting your decision and radiating offense and anger on an issue such as this is a no more legitimate reaction for a friend than cutting off a finger would be. If you want this ‘friendship’ to continue, you need to be a stronger partner in it.

There was and is no reason to report what happened to the person you are dating or to any of your other friends. God frowns on purposeless gossip and telling your friends this sad saga is purposeless gossip. What possible reason could you have for telling them other than hoping that somehow they’d infuse you with the necessary strength to do what your soul has already told you that you must do?  This is only between you and Mr. X.  You can solve it quite easily without the cheering reassurance and encouragement of your other friends.  Just do it.

We urge you to ask yourself if you slide into these predicaments in other areas of your life, such as business and family. Or is this destructive docility reserved for your social life or perhaps just for this specific individual? Gaining insight into yourself is most valuable. Each time you force yourself to act and react appropriately to these types of circumstances, you strengthen yourself into a better person and make it ever less likely that you’ll fail again.

So, pick up the phone and own the situation!

Best wishes,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Owning your dating/courtship life is a great idea.
The two books will raise questions and provide guidance.
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I Only Want to Get Married Once: Dating Secrets for Getting it Right the First TimeHands Off: This May Be Love!
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Friends Forever?

February 18th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 13 comments

Go ahead; list the ten most important relationships in your life.  Some will be family and others will be business and work relationships.  There will probably be a few friends on the list too.  Family relationships are fairly well defined.  The obligations and expectations of those relationships are, for the most part, known quantities. Business relationships are also clear, governed as most are by contracts.  But what about friends?  What are the obligations of friendship? What are reasonable expectations of friendship?

While the Five Books of Moses are packed with rules and rituals that shape both family and business relationships, it is notably light on mention of friendships.  We know just what employees owe their employers and vice versa, and we know what parents owe children and what children owe their parents, but if we ask people what they owe their friends, the answer could be, “It depends on the friend.”

Everyone knows the answer to the question, “For how long will your parent be your parent?”  If asked for how long a marriage is intended to last, the correct answer is, ‘This is forever.’  But if one is asked for how long one’s friend will be one’s friend, the prudent answer is, “I don’t know.”  The true answer might be, “For as long as we both want to be friends.”

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Fasts and Feasts

December 20th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 20 comments

This past Tuesday was a fast day in the Jewish calendar, a fact that probably never came across your radar screen. Truthfully, even most Jews were unaware of it, as only the relatively small percentage of Jews who observe their faith as their ancestors did make note of the day. 

While there are two major fast days during the year (Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av) on which food and drink are prohibited for 25 hours, there are also four other fast days on which eating and drinking are prohibited only from just before sunrise until soon after sunset.  While certain special prayers are added on these days, we otherwise function as normal; going to work for instance.

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Wife vs. Friend

May 24th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 13 comments

I’ve been married for 18 years and we have 3 beautiful kids.

I think we have a problem. My husband is helping a friend by letting him borrow his truck a for little more than 2 months now. Every Thursday my husband drives the 2 youngest ones to school in our two passenger van. I asked him to ask his friend to return our truck so he could drive the kids to school safely, but he said that he is helping the friend and can’t ask him that yet.

Help me understand if I’m being selfish when my concern is the safety of the kids? On top of that his friend has been using the truck for more than two months. I think this has been enough time to get on his way, since his is getting paid regularly.  I assume he’s doing okay because I heard that the friend even loaned money to someone.

Do you think I’m being mean to my husband and his friend? I also laid out my views and concerns for my husband, on the first day he let the friend use the truck. I was even concerned that we may be holding his friend back from moving forward and  getting the better things in life for himself. 

Thank you so much for everything that you and Susan do. I watch your show every day on TCT and I’m now reading one of your books. I have a much better idea of things now because of you.

Love,

Gina S.

Dear Gina,

We’re delighted that you find our shows and books helpful. That encourages us to keep taping and writing.

You are actually asking three different questions:

  1. Is your husband driving your children in an objectively unsafe way?
  2.   Is your husband giving his friend help in a way that keeps his friend from taking responsibility for his own life?
  3. What say do you have in how your husband helps his friend?

It is possible that your husband thinks that doubling up on seating is perfectly safe but you don’t. However, we have a suspicion that your concerns do not stem entirely from the safety issue or you wouldn’t have let your husband drive the children even once in an unsafe manner.

You might be right that it would be good for the friend to become more independent, however you can’t know that for sure. It is possible that your husband’s friend has shared confidences with him that you don’t know about or that other factors are in play.

The third question is really the pivotal one in terms of your marriage. We feel that your question is far more of a state-of-marriage question than it is a child-safety question or your concerns about the friend’s own situation.

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Did you say what I think you said?

May 28th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

I was somewhat taken back by your answer to Diane – the woman in her 60’s who was being disturbed by the neighborhood children. I basically agree with your response to the noise level issue but thought your advice that she form friendships first before expecting the children to respect and not damage her property just encourages the idea that one only has to be respectful of property to those she knows and/or likes.

Is this right?

∼ Leslie

Answer:

Dear Leslie,

Thanks for giving us a chance to elaborate on our answer. We are all obligated to respect other people’s property whether or not we know or like the person. That is a basic timeless truth of Scripture. In fact, ancient Jewish wisdom says that those who treat other people’s belongings casually will end up treating other people’s lives casually as well. Shall we say that we aren’t surprised that after the mayor of Baltimore adopted a, ‘we’ll let them destroy property’ attitude, the violence did not end with vandalism; it continued on to bloodshed.

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