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A moment later there was an announcement that Minchah was about to begin. The man followed the boy inside and was astounded and ashamed that the boy was approaching the bimah to lead the services. It was the boy’s obligation to do so, for he had recently lost his father. The man felt terrible about what he had said, though he could not have known [about this] unless he inquired about the boy before speaking to him.

The lesson: If one knows a person well, he must think about that person’s sensitivities regarding general issues before making any comment to him. If, on the other hand, one does not know someone, he should not say anything without first finding out more about that person.

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Hence, before you speak to someone about something of a personal nature, ask yourself if the topic you plan to address is an appropriate one and whether you know the person well enough to have the impending discussion. If the answer to either question is “no,” it would be prudent to err on the side of caution and say nothing. Don’t forget that one never knows what someone else is going through unless he or she has been in the same position.

It is imperative to judge others favorably since you do not know what another person is experiencing at the time in question – and thus why the person is acting in a certain way.

I hope your letter serves as a wake-up call to others to think carefully before they speak. While most people who speak wrongfully do not mean to be hurtful, they are far less likely to offend others if they first put serious thought into what they’re planning to say before saying it.

Thank you for your heartfelt letter. May Hashem grant you the strength to deal with all of your nisyonos, and may He bless you with children soon. Hatzlachah!

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to deardryael@aol.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.
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