Ethics

For the week ending 11 May 2013 / 1 Sivan 5773

Hi, Old Buddy!

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: Someone whom I haven’t seen in years came up to me the other day with the big smile and warm handshake one gives a long-lost friend. Although he remembered me, I could not recall his name and was afraid to ask him in order not to embarrass him. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: Almost everyone of us encounters such a situation and different people have different solutions as to how it is possible to carry on a conversation without revealing that they don’t remember their greeter’s name.

Perhaps the best thing to do is to be perfectly frank and confess that the passage of time has caused you to forget who your greeter is despite the fact that he seems so familiar to you. This will almost always elicit a reaction of pride in the fact that he remembers you although you have forgotten him. Once he tells you his name it will invariably trigger memories about him which will enable you to ask the right questions expected from one whom he hasn’t seen for so many years.

Remember that people generally do not expect you to remember them before they identify themselves since the passage of time changes their appearance and dulls your memory. So go right ahead and excuse yourself for forgetting his name and enjoy your reunion.


Originally published the week ending 7 January 2006 / 7 Tevet 5766

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