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?
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.