Minute 818: If I Would Have Known

“I try so hard to hold my tongue, but I must say that I don’t think I can tolerate Harry’s work ethic much longer,” Mr. Roberts said. “He’s running late and making mistakes and I’m spending more time redoing his projects than completing my own assignments.”

“So you’ve noticed a drop in his performance lately?” Mr. Kleinman said. “Did you investigate why he’s not the same as he used to be?”

“Who has time to do detective work? We’re under pressure to meet customer deadlines and besides, I have to fix or complete Harry’s tasks on top of my own responsibilities,” Mr. Roberts said defensively.

“I think it’s time I made you aware of Harry’s problem,” Mr. Kleinman said somberly. “It’s his wife’s health.”

“You don’t mean…?” Mr. Roberts asked.

Mr. Kleinman responded with a nod of the head.

“If I would’ve known!” Mr. Roberts exclaimed.

Life is a series of ups and downs. We have our high points like births and marriages and we have our downs like financial hardship and serious illnesses. When experiencing difficulties, it’s fair for one to expect understanding and leniencies from friends and neighbors. After all, dealing with serious issues is time-consuming and stressful. Priorities demand that life as usual be put on hold. Daily routine seems to get in the way of the pressing problem-solving hours one must expend to overcome the crisis. If confronted about failure to perform, one will probably reply, “What do you expect in these circumstances?”

Consider it might not be your problem — it might be someone else’s. But before allowing another person some leeway, must you know his business?

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

All of us dream — at least we should. Some dream while awake, others while asleep. Sometimes we do both. But too often we paint the line between reality and imagination with a brush far too wide. And when we do that, we make it much harder to actualize our dreams, our potential. In truth, our state of reality and our fanciful imagination are really very close neighbors — residing side by side, in the same space — sometimes competing for our utmost attention. (Rabbi Yaakov Salomon, C.S.W., Something to Think About, p. 67)


Rabbi Raymond Beyda serves in the Sephardic Community in Brooklyn, N.Y.