Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav – October 11, 2013

Q: When chatting with a friend, I said, among other things, “Tonight I have the so-and-so family’s wedding, but they didn’t bother coming to our daughter’s wedding, so I am also not obligated to go to theirs.” My friend commented that in her opinion, I transgressed in the following ways: First, I said it in a way that disparaged the family that did not come to our wedding, and second, I transgressed the sins of “Do not take revenge” and “Do not bear a grudge” when I am repaying them tit-for-tat by not coming to their wedding.

Did I really sin? After all, it is commonly accepted that one tries to reciprocate by sharing in the simchos of those who participated in ours, and likewise, vice versa…

A: Indeed, it is common practice that one tries to reciprocate at simchos. But it is not worthy to act that way in reverse, that if so-and-so did not participate in our simchah, then we “repay him in kind” and do not come to his simchah. However, sometimes one calculates that being that so-and-so did not come to my simchah, and it is hard for me to get out of the house today, therefore, this time, I don’t feel obligated to make an effort to come to this simchah.

As to whether your words were halachically forbidden, we will explain as follows: there was no “taking revenge” or “bearing a grudge” here, because your words were not said in order to take revenge, chalilah. You meant to say, as we explained above, that you do not believe that you are obligated to make the effort to participate in this wedding.

However, the way you expressed yourself about the family making the wedding was disparaging, and in that, you indeed did not act appropriately. You should have  judged the family favorably by saying, “They did not participate in our daughter’s wedding; they probably couldn’t make it or they were busy, and being it’s hard for me to get out of the house today, I feel that I can allow myself to forego attending this time…”

It is unnecessary to apologize in this case, only to accept upon yourself from now on to be more careful with your speech and also to try judging others’ deeds favorably.