Ethics

For the week ending 14 July 2012 / 23 Tammuz 5772

Have You Heard This Before?

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: Everyone enjoys the pleasure of being the first to tell someone else some news or an interesting story. I often find, however, that many times I have already heard the news or the story and am tempted to tell my informer that there is no need for him to waste my time. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: Assuming that what you are being told does not come under the category of lashon hara (gossip or slander) to which you are forbidden to lend an ear, the issue which faces you is whether to sacrifice a few moments in order to make your informer feel good.

Professional comedians used to introduce their jokes with the line "Stop me if youve heard this". But it is rare that a friend of yours will give you this escape hatch. It then becomes important for you to reflect on what our Talmudic Sages have said about a smile given to another person being more appreciated by him than offering him a cold, refreshing drink. This teaches us the importance of making others feel good, something which you accomplish by making believe you have never head the news or story before.

And dont forget the "golden rule" of the Sage Hillel not to do to others what you dont want done to you. How do you feel when someone interrupts you by saying "Ive heard this already"?

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