For the week ending 3 December 2005 / 2 Kislev 5766

You're Wasting Your Time!

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Question: As a result of the position I hold in my community I am frequently called upon by people in the community to deal with problems which they assume I am capable of solving. Since I am well aware that I have neither the experience to counsel them or the influence to assist them, I am tempted to tell them at the outset that they are wasting their time in turning to me. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: The only way to decide on a proper response in your difficult situation is to try putting yourself into the shoes of those who turn to you. They suspect that you are indeed capable of helping them but hesitate to do so because they are not worthy of taking up your time by even presenting their case. It is therefore important for you to at least listen to them and to respond by sympathizing with their problem and reiterating your inability to help them for the reasons that you provide.

A further observation is called for in regard to counsel that you initially feel you are incapable of providing. Many people in your situation have been happily surprised that they came up with lifesaving advice. Perhaps if Heaven ordained that you should be the one to whom a person in need turned, you have been chosen as the channel for Heavenly counsel to be provided.

In conclusion, people who turn to you may indeed not be wasting their time and neither will you.

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