Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: I have a neighbor whose lack of tact triggers many unpleasant situations. I know that it is a mitzvah to give the benefit of the doubt and to think only positive thoughts of every individual, but it is very difficult for me to implement this in regard to this person. What can I do?

A: You write that your neighbor “lacks tact.” In simple terms, it seems that this is a matter of a woman whom Hashem did not bless with the perception and smarts of appropriate social behavior. It can be assumed that even if one attempts to teach her these nuances, she does not grasp them, because she is missing the awareness and perception of sensing her friends’ feelings about her behavior towards them. As a result, her neighbors and friends are suffering.

If that is the case, then it is not understandable at all why it is difficult to give her the benefit of the doubt. This is her nature, and that is how Hashem created her.

This compares to a neighbor who suffers from a severe stutter. It takes a lot of patience to have a discussion with her (and most neighbors probably avoid spending time with her, other than the really special ones — may they be blessed!). Is it difficult for anyone to judge the stutterer favorably? It is clear that she is not at fault, and on the contrary, one should pray for her.

So it is regarding the question at hand. It is known that there are a very small percentage of people who were not blessed with tact, and no course of instruction would make a recognizable difference in resolving the problem. If so, the neighbor cannot be blamed. The favorable judgment is simple and self-understood. The only thing to do is to daven for her that Hashem should open her eyes.


The questions and answers above were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at office@hasholom.org or call 972-2 5379160.

The views expressed are of the individual author. Readers are encouraged to consult their own posek for guidance.