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Kislev 5764 – Handling Obstinacy

1 Kislev 5764

Handling Obstinacy

Dear Chana,

How does one handle obstinacy?

Well, heres the story. There was someone I’ve known for quite some time but we’ve always had a so-so relationship. We are from the same community and we went to camp together but we didn’t attend the same seminary.

A few years ago a dispute arose (a money thing) but that’s not the main thing now, it’s what’s happened since. We didn’t see eye to eye on how to handle it and that seemed to cause hard feelings especially from her because she claimed that I owed her. Her position was that I was more responsible for her rights than she was for my rights and I thought that was clearly hypocritical. The turning point was when we had one conversation where she rankled me like that. I told her to her face that she is a hypocrite. Boy, she got all mad and ran away.

I really felt bad for hurting her feelings even though I really thought she was a hypocrite (it was clear from what she said), so I immediately sent her a note to apologize for making her upset but I wrote in black and white exactly what she said wrong and challenged her to explain why she wasn’t being a hypocrite. She never responded.

You can imagine that the so-so relationship became an SOS relationship. I was hoping she got the message but it didn’t seem that way because whenever I saw her she was giving me the cold shoulder. So a while later I thought to try to come to terms with her and I sent another letter where I said that if she has complaints she should say so (I heard from Rabbi Berkowitz, SHLiT”A that sinas chinam means not telling the other person that you are angry at them).

Now she sent back a real nasty letter and she wrote that when she wanted to talk to me about it (I really went to talk to her) I called her a hypocrite to her face and humiliated her publicly! Now, it was a quiet conversation and even though there may have been 3 or 4 people in the general vicinity, I’m sure no one heard it but her. She did make a big ruckus when she got mad, though, and they all heard that but that was her doing. What bothers me about this is that I sent a letter to apologize for being so blunt way back when and she goes on like I never sent it. I delivered it personally.

Now we are both post sem. She is a teacher and I work in an office. She is actually a very popular and witty girl and I hear that she’s a good teacher.

Now, guess what? We both got engaged over the summer. First me and then her. (My choson knows nothing about this and it better stay that way!) Since I am willing to be friends, I called her special to tell her about the vort. No big surprise, she didn’t come. Well 2 1/2 weeks later was her turn. As you may guess, she didnt call me about her vort but I went anyway just to say mazal tov and didn’t stay or eat anything. I thought things may thaw out. Well, her invitations are already out and it seems that I wasn’t on her list. I can live with that. One of my dilemmas is that mine are going out soon and I really don’t mind if she came but I’m afraid that if I send her one she may take it as a ‘shtuch’. So, I suppose I better not. What a shame.

Now is the main problem, I think we are both staying in this community! We could wind up living on the same street! Imagine! We may have kids the same age, and, who knows? (My Father always said, “Be careful how you treat people, you never know who your next mechutan is.”) So how do I put an end to this?

I mean, I suppose she would want me to apologize for calling her a hypocrite but that’s kind of hard if I prove my point and she won’t disprove it. I have other complaints which I have put to her (that’s really for another letter) but she hasn’t acknowledged or refuted anything. The strange thing is that she is usually a nice and jovial person and this is so out of character for her as if she is two different people.

So what do I do now? We are both getting married soon. I can’t fix this myself because she won’t give me the time of day, so do I just leave it this way and stay mad at her forever? I suppose the best thing is to get a third party mediator, but who wants to get involved in something so silly?

I really need your help – this whole thing seems so out of control!

Name withheld by request

Darchei Binah [Year withheld by request]

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Dear Jemsem Reader,

You are so right about this whole thing being out of control!! I’d say it has gone on much too long and you need to put a stop to it. You ask who would want to get involved in being a mediator of such a silly thing? I wouldn’t call bringing Shalom between 2 people silly at all. What do you think Aaron Hacohen was spending much of his time doing?! We are in desperate need of Moshiach and things like this certainly won’t speed him in coming. You have made an honest effort to resolve this – but I feel you should try again.

The initial cause of the problem was a money issue. Did either of you ever ask a Rabbi what should be done? Perhaps that is the starting point. Next, whether your comment to her is true or not, she was obviously deeply hurt by it. We have to be so careful about the things that we say to others. These things cannot be taken lightly. You are both getting married soon. A wedding day is a mini Yom Kippor. You say the special erev Yom Kippor mincha – it’s a day when your slate is wiped clean and your T’fillos go straight into shamaiyim. What a shame to go into this special Ko’ach of a day with something like this. As we know, with Bein Adom L’chaveiro matters, Hashem doesn’t forgive us until we work it out down here. That alone makes this an urgent matter, how much more so with your wedding days and marriages just around the corner.

As I see it you have 3 avenues to bring about a resolution. [but firstly do deal with the money issue – halachikly]

1] Call her and tell her that you want to speak with her either on the phone or in person. You can say that you truly want to clear this up already, because nothing good is coming from all this negativity and hate. You might mention that because you are both getting married soon, you want to clear the air with a fresh start. You will need to apologize for calling her a hypocrite, whether she is or not isn’t important now and she doesn’t need to dispute it with you. I’m sure by now you are quite sorry for having said that.

2] Write her a letter and put your feelings and your incere apology into words.

3] Ask a third party to get involved and mediate. Many times a third party is extremely helpful in making sure that each one is really hearing what the other is saying and that communication is smooth and honest.

The point is to do something. Neither you nor her should stay mad at each other forever. For what? After 120 years would you want such a thing on your record? I wouldn’t. These things aren’t pleasant to deal with, but it is the mature, sensible and upright thing to do. You may never be best buddies with her, but it is important to face it and be a proper jew.

LIFE’S JUST TOO SHORT FOR THIS.

May Hashem give you the right words to fix this situation.

Mazal Tov on your upcoming wedding!!!

With Warmest Wishes,

Chana

P.S TO THE JEMSEM READERSHIP: I get letters similar to this all the time. There are so many hurtful and painful situations like this that go on everywhere. If people would be more sensitive to others and measure their words more carefully before they speak, many bein adam l’chavero issues could be completely avoided. These issues cause alot of suffering and anguish, and in the larger picture of life, ultimately don’t matter. A person doesn’t always have to have the last word, or for that matter always be right. We all have to learn to be more dan l’caf zechus and be m’aveir on our middos and be more forgiving. Interpersonal dealings are huge. This is not something to take lightly.

A PLEA TO EACH OF YOU: THINK DEEPLY ABOUT THIS. IF YOU HAVE A SITUATION WHICH IS IN ANY WAY SIMILAR, OR IS SOME SORT OF A DIFFICULT BEIN ADAM L’CHAVERO ISSUE, DO SOMETHNG ABOUT IT.