Friday, March 17, 2006

Maintaining A Distance From Nudniks

On occasion throughout our lives, "needy" people try to attach themselves to us and monopolize our time. If we allow them to, they will eventually drain our strength and patience. If, however, we maintain a distance from the beginning, we will alleviate uncomfortable situations in the future.

While it may appear cruel to act in this manner, ultimately isn't it a minor form of kindness since we may truly not have the time or resources they need?

Or is this question in of itself just a rationalization?


At March 17, 2006 at 7:17:00 AM EST, Blogger Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

Dear ASJ,

It would be a rationalization to say that thereby justifying inaction if indeed there were made no attempt to find a more appropriate person or resource to assist the needy person. It is akin, I suppose, to that level of tzedaka which holds that em-powering a poor person to earn a
living is a greater mitzvah than simply giving over money. I remain ...

Very Sincerely yours,

Alan D. Busch

At March 17, 2006 at 7:38:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Alan: Thank you for your commment. I think you may have misinterpreted what I wrote however.

Just to clarify things, when I wrote "needy", I did not necessarily mean a poor or destitute person. That is why I put it in quotations. What I meant was a person who always needs something from us and is bothersome in the process (i.e. a nudnik).

At March 17, 2006 at 11:55:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many nudniks actually know that they're nudniks? Very few, in my experience. Why penalize someone for being who they are? So a nudnik darkens your own door - Hashem speaks to each man through his environment. I think it's probably best to avoid characterizing anyone as a nudnik, and deal with each interaction individually and honestly. This sometimes means saying outright "I can't help you." I've been in many situations where this kind of honesty has been uncomfortable and embarrassing for me, but I think it's important to keep boundaries. Good fences make good neighbors, and all that - but it has to be a benevolent fence and not a fence built out of assumptions and worry. If you maintain a distance from the beginning, you may alleviate uncomfortable situations in the future, but you may also forfeit real opportunities for giving and receiving kindnesses.

Of course, I may be wrong. Some people make you want to hide behind a tree every time they walk by. ;)

At March 17, 2006 at 12:39:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Heidi: I appreciated your thoughts on this question. Thank you for commenting.

At March 18, 2006 at 9:55:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, well, well. This is a very important question - and I think a very difficult question. My first thought is to consider Avraham Avinu, who set up his tent with doors or openings on all four sides so that a poor person would not have to walk even to the other side of his tent to get in.

Think about it. As we know, Avraham Avinu set up his tent in the desert. People probably had to travel for miles to visit him and his family in the desert. After the person had already traveled who knows how long, it be too much to expect them to walk around a corner, maybe a few more feet, to get to the main entrance?

But Avraham Avinu went the extra mile to ensure that his guests would not have to do that.

And we are expected to ask ourselves - when will our deeds reach those of Avraham Avinu?

That being said, there are of course a multitude of considerations when giving tzedekah. It appears to me you're primarily referring to a needy person who needs to talk, who needs someone to listen to their stories. I'm assuming such a person probably needs, as we all do, to feel loved, and senses that you can give him or her some sense of companionship or friendship.

This kind of tzedekah is very precious indeed to the person receiving it.

Assuming, of course, that the conversations are positive and focus on Torah-values, it seems like a wonderful thing.

Of course, we all have many demands on our time, and we don't want to neglect our own families.

Still, I'm reminded of a friend of mine, Ephraim Klein, ztl, who was recently murdered by person or persons unknown in the middle of the night here in our neighborhood of Crown Heights.

I spoke with him a few hours before he died. He was not a very "needy" person like you describe. But I bring him up because I'm so glad I had a pleasant conversation the last time we spoke. Neither of us knew it would be the last time (presumably until the resurrection...)

We don't know what tomorrow will bring, so we have to create as much light as we can today!


At March 19, 2006 at 7:34:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Yosef Dahne: I appreciate your perspective on this. I am sorry to hear about your friend. I have been following this story in Hamodia and Jewish press and was saddened to hear this news.

At March 19, 2006 at 10:38:00 AM EST, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

So you're saying I need to move out of my house.

At March 19, 2006 at 12:17:00 PM EST, Blogger Alice said...

This is a hard one because we might all be this person to someone else. So it's probably best to be nice. On the other hand, the 'needy person' might be behaving selfishly or taking advantage of someone's kindness. Then you must teach people how to treat you, in my opinion- draw a line.

I try to figure out what the person is doing specifically that is sucking the life out of me and address that issue instead of writing off the entire person. Address the behavior. I did this with someone and they turned out to be one of my best friends ever. Now I just know how to handle her in those moments. The key is that she respects this boundary setting and isn't offended by it. If she were, we wouldn't be friends.

At March 19, 2006 at 3:31:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Psychotoddler: I can't believe that you have nudniks in your home ;)

Alice: Good point. Thanks.

At March 26, 2006 at 11:00:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oy, but if eveything around us is a reflection back to us, we must look each person in the eyes and see the mirror they represent. Suddenly, a nudnick can blossom into a caring friend, or a holy seeker.

On the other hand, sometimes caller ID is helpful.

kol tuv!

At March 26, 2006 at 2:29:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Chaya Sara: I liked your comment about the caller ID. ;)


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