Nov 12, 2017
If You Must Vilify, First Verify

From the COLlive inbox: "A woman I barely know come over to me in shul and expressed her sincere wish to 'support' me."

By Another anonymous

There is a tendency among the dramatically-inclined to jump on a morsel of 'juicy' news and run headlong into assumptions without putting on the brakes to verify it. Such people create such complex misunderstandings as would be comical - if they weren't so sad.

Case in point:

Recently, a poignant article was posted on by a writer who was struggling with mental health issues while trying to navigate the shidduch world. The writer described herself as an accountant (although, possibly that is not her real profession since she wished to remain anonymous).

The bad news is that I also happen to be an accountant in Crown Heights. That would explain why a woman I barely know come over to me in shul and expressed her sincere wish to provide 'guidance' and 'support' to me.

It was obvious to her that I must be the writer of the article because I am female, frum, single and work as an accountant. But it wasn't me.

I simply told her that insurance transactions are now online and she can feel free to inspect my medical records at any time. That put an end to that.

To be sure, I wish the writer of that article the best and hope she speedily finds our bashert and builds a Jewish home.

Now, I can only hope that there are not a few hundred other people under the same misapprehension. It seems like an innocent mistake but the ramifications are scary.

And this is the way misunderstanding, misinformation and misrepresentation process through the grand rugged machinery that is the grapevine of small, crowded communities.

Taking unverified information as fact is prohibited in the strongest terms in our Torah and by the teachings of Chassidus. And that is in addition to the basic halachos of loshon hara, rechilus, motzie shem ra - to name a few.

Putting on a sympathetic and loving face while believing or passing on the information does not make one an iota less responsible for perpetrating an injustice of the first order and holding back all the blessings one needs for family and self.

There are plenty of newspapers and tabloids out there publishing 'fake news'. The well-being of a fellow Jew and their precious reputation requires fact over fiction.

If you must vilify, please first verify.

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
so true
(11/12/2017 9:41:47 PM)
oy if only
people would not only not make assumptions on things they hear, but also not believe negative gossip they hear, as required of a Frum Jew!!
Oh - how much better the world would be!!
(11/12/2017 11:02:41 PM)
Well said
All your aveiros were forgiven by this. Your brachos if you're insulted can also be very powerful - remember to bless yourself too. May you have besuros tovos quickly.
(11/12/2017 11:32:05 PM)
Fact or Fiction
How about making a practice of using the following phrases:
"I don't really know"
"It's none of my business"
"I don't want to hear about it"
"Do I really need to know this?"
"Do you have proof?"
" Is there a purpose in my knowing?"
"Is it a fact or an assumption?"
" I wouldn't want anyone to say such things about me, would you?"
"How can you know? Were you there?"
There is a thought provoking poster that I once saw that says:Great minds talk about ideas, medium minds talk about things, small minds talk about people!
(11/13/2017 1:29:53 AM)
Too true
A similar thing happened to me. But the person didn't come directly to me. I later confronted her. I was livid. And even though, those who knew me knew it was ridiculous, what about the people who didn't and believed it. It is a terrible thing and it doesn't penetrate how awful it is still it happens to you.
(11/13/2017 5:29:16 AM)
So sorry
Would love to support you.
(11/13/2017 7:01:02 AM)
if a tree falls in a forest but nobody hears it...Boruch Hashem, vashrei doreinu that we now have op-ed thingys so that no falling tree goes unheard
(11/13/2017 9:30:06 AM)
BS"D Don't understand the writers retort to the lady who approached her in Shul, seemingly with good intentions, for that matter do not understand the need to be upset and write an article over a innocent mistake, unfortunately there are bigger issues in ones life as the writer of the original article is experiencing
(11/13/2017 9:39:27 AM)
to #8 Jack
Innocent mistake? making up your own dumb unverified assumptions about someone else? and then even acting on it?

One can only imagine the other parts of her life story
(11/13/2017 9:57:06 AM)
Same here!
I once received a phone call from a friend "I hope you wrote in to the Rebbe about it" I was like, what? "yes, in this situation, you should write in". I asked what are you talking about? they answer "I read your article" I had no clue what they were talking about.

Turns out they read a post on some group and just figured it was me...

It was really annoying, really really annoying and so wrong on so many levels
(11/13/2017 10:00:28 AM)
moshe der g
i can only tell the writer
here is a quote from your article
"that is the grapevine of small, crowded communities."
please don't badmouth any whole communities
today with internet and with social media and facebook, whatsapp there are no small communities
a rumor spreads throughout the world in seconds

may hashem bless you in all that you need and want

(11/13/2017 10:05:43 AM)
To #11
The writer did not write crown heights, the editor decided to insert a location.
(11/13/2017 11:16:02 AM)
i am that person
I am really disappointed that she felt this way. I thought we communicated very well. You seemed interested in the help I had to offer. You kept the conversation going to clarify the help I had in mind. Now that I see the article, I know that your defensiveness was way deeper than I realized. about the misunderstanding. But this is hurtful to someone who did make an innocent mistake with the best intentions. It saddens me that you harbor all this negativity.
Hopefully I apologized, I know I tried to assure you of that no proof was not needed. 3x as a matter of fact. But we continued to have what I thought was a nice conversation.
Disappointed but sincerely wish you the best.
FACT: we spoke for around 15 mins, if not 20. why did you ,keep the conversation going? again, wishing you well, and I really do apologize for assuming. I"H I will be much more careful in the future.
this is not about me, but I feel misled.
(11/13/2017 4:30:24 PM)
i asked you if you were open to hearing what I had to say re: shidduchim. You said yes. I have a giving nature. I will be more careful for sure, but this will not stop from giving to people.
(11/13/2017 4:36:58 PM)
Can be extremely hurtful
Someone once made a terrible (false!) assumption about my family situation, and out of "caring" spread the false rumor all over the community trying to find out if it was true. It was a horrible position to be in and almost impossible to dissipate. Please be very very careful before making assumptions and only act if approached by the person looking for help. It can really cause much pain.
(11/13/2017 6:07:56 PM)
got it. sincerely apologize for any pain caused. (lesson learned)
(11/13/2017 6:49:20 PM)
#13 No one meant to mislead you
Sometimes a person can conduct a conversation on 'autopilot' while they try to process the shock of something they just heard and figure out how they should react. Particularly when it is a with an acquaintance they barely know and a portrayal of instinctive feelings is not proper. It's obvious that the writer was not trying to 'mislead' you in writing this article, in fact maybe she felt deceived by your automatic assumption! This is no 'rant' or quest for revenge and no one was damaged by it, just a sincere attempt to prevent future such misunderstandings in a sensitive, thought provoking and to the point message we can all learn from. Let's leave it at that and move forward. Wishing you and all of klal yisroel peace of mind and abundance.
(11/13/2017 10:15:54 PM)
Laughter is the best medicine
This can also be seen in a different light- humorous. Best maybe to laugh it off in good humour together? We are all human and humans make mistakes. She is a good person and you are a good person. Maybe don't take it so seriously,
(11/14/2017 12:27:11 AM)
To #13
Easy tip for life: Don’t offer favors if it required an unpleasant (and possibly not true) assumption.
(11/14/2017 12:55:52 AM)
healthy people can get over things
this is called going nuclear

Please nobody stop trying to help people for fear of a snowflake meltdown

(11/14/2017 9:41:17 AM)
Definition of helping
Helping people is just that, it's about the other person. If you are going to HELP do so. If it's about you you'll end up hurting.
(11/14/2017 10:21:06 AM)
to #20 just wondering
How is letting someone know that they believe the worst about her without having asked a single question first.. helping? Some new dictionaries needed to define that word.
(11/14/2017 10:26:07 AM)
I think this article was unnecessary and I sympathize with # 13
Also can you understand how hurtful all this might be, to the young woman who wrote the original article, to which this person so strongly objects to have been mistaken for. I guess nothing has really changed, in so far, as attitudes go towards people with mental challenges, that are trying to lead normal healthy lives. There's a very negative bend to most of this. Sorry, all the best and good luck to you!
(11/14/2017 12:00:48 PM)
#13 / #23
I hope a little thought will soften your harsh view of me. Now about your comment#13:
I respectfully beg to differ:
Agreeing readily to hear what I expected to be a few nuggets of wisdom from a friendly lady does not equal being ‘very interested in getting help from you’. You read something, made an assumption and thought you were going on an errand of mercy. I had no idea of what you were thinking and thought you were a sweet lady it would be fun to chat with! A case of crossed lines (which one day may be funny).
The walk was prolonged partly because you first had to discuss something (also of a private nature) with another girl you approached while we were walking; And later you good naturedly insisted on turning around and accompanying me when I turned to go home..
In your perception, my efforts to correct a not so minor misapprehension were ‘defensive’, while my efforts to hold up the conversation and appear less distressed were ‘misleading’.. I hope that perspective softens a bit in the future when you realize that although you recognized yourself in the anecdote, nobody else did and there was nothing to defend or attack. It wasn't about you but about a serious concern.
Sometimes a person has to take the initiative and clarify what could be a wide spread assumption. It’s a painful job and the last thing I wanted to do.
That said, to me this matter is closed. I certainly intend to greet you with a smile next time we meet:)
(11/14/2017 1:50:40 PM)
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