14 August 2006

People in Glass Houses...

shouldn't throw stones.

As all of us go through life, each of us is thrown our share of tsurris. As I focus on my own problems with my family situation, being a wife, mother, student, teacher, friend, and daughter; I try and keep focus by realizing that G-d doesn't give us more than we can't handle (although it may not seem like that at the time!).

Someone I know has children with all sorts of emotional and learning difficulties, minor financial problems, and battles yearly depression. Through all this, though, she still has the time to make wild speculations about other people that are baseless, but from her, they have just enough credibility to do some serious damage.

She is worried about a single man in our community who walked the nine year old daughter of a mutual friend to her house one Shabbat afternoon. He came over to visit her husband (they share a hobby) and the girl tagged along to play with the kids at the house. When it was established that the husband was not home, the man had been invited in "to wait" and he proceeded to play some board games with the kids. This mother felt a strong need to "watch" her children with this man the entire time because she has a "feeling" that he needs to be watched.

Now, the mother of the nine year old had no problems allowing the man to walk her daughter over to the other woman's house. I happen to know the man and know FOR A FACT that he is not "into children". In fact, there have been some events in his personal history that indicate his hatred for anyone who would abuse a child in any way. He also makes it a point to NEVER BE ALONE with a child. In his defence, this mother is battling her own demons and has been too preoccupied with them to deal with her children.

While I respect her right as a mother to be cautious of someone she is not completely sure about, I don't respect that she would ask me, a friend of this person, about his sexual history. I also don't understand why she would pass on to other mothers in the community to "watch out" for him, people he doesn't see on a regular basis. He doesn't take a significant interest in children and never pushes to be alone with them. At shul, he says "Good Shabbos" and might sit and play a board game during daavening. In truth, he is a "big kid" and is someone who could be classified as "weird", but who isn't in some way?

Just recently, I have learned about her problems from another friend. While her own life is falling apart, she is expending too much energy on this other person. While I admit to having my own problems, I do protect my family but I honestly don't have the time to worry about every weird person who crosses my path. If they are too strange, then I just stay away and avoid wasting my time "warning" others about them. Usually by the time I meet one of these "strangers", almost everyone else knows about them anyway.

Assignment as we are getting closer to Elul: Focus on filtering out useless information. If it doesn't immediately pertain to you or your situation, tell the perpetrator of the lashon ha-ra that you are not interested.
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