Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: I have a friend who is extremely particular about time. For instance, he would arrive at a wedding at the exact time written on the invitation, even though everyone knows that the hosts had in mind an hour later. Sometimes I laugh about it in front of my friends, scoffing at his exactitude. I know he doesn’t mind because he doesn’t see it as an issue.

A: The questioner transgressed many prohibitions of lashon hara. It is also clearly understood from the description that he is sometimes transgressing the prohibition of halbanas panim — shaming publicly, and an additional number of positive and negative commandments.

In the general population, there is a percentage of individuals and families who are very particular about punctuality and are not willing to compromise on this, even if the majority of people act differently. This is manifested both when they host their own simchah or event and are particular about beginning promptly, and when they participate in other people’s simchos and arrive exactly at the time printed on the invitation. This is not the place to elaborate on the root of this habit. But, in general, it can be said that this stems from sincerity and honesty. These individuals are accustomed to the idea that the time quoted means that time, and that arriving late inconveniences people. They are not willing to submit to the reality that nowadays people intend a later time than printed on the invitation. There’s also always a feeling that perhaps this particular event will begin promptly and they prefer arriving on time and waiting rather than being tardy.

The questioner assumes, as do most people, that in the current situation this habit is not justified, and one should do away with it. This, however, does not justify ridiculing a friend in public! Mockery gives listeners a negative impression of the individual and presents him as a strange, inflexible and stubborn person, who perhaps also suffers from compulsions. It seems from the question that the friend knows he is being mocked. If that is the case, then he is also being shamed and offended. It is also likely that the jokes are made in his presence, which is cause for real halbanas panim — shaming someone publicly.

The questioner writes that he knows that his friend doesn’t mind that others are talking about him. The truth is that it doesn’t matter how he knows it, because even if the friend said he doesn’t mind, one should not rely on it. It is clear that it could bother him and he is simply afraid to say so. In general, this type of behavior is not in accordance with Torah hashkafah; it is the way of leitzim — scoffers.

In conclusion, the abovementioned behavior is flawed, and the questioner must ask his friend for forgiveness and repent, by regretting the deed, confessing to Hashem and resolving not to repeat the offense.

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.