May 28, 2018, Israel
These days people post all their problems on social media and expect expert advice from others. However, this is far from what they actually receive. What they do receive usually is in complete violation of Jewish law and tradition; ignored are - do not embarrass your fellow man in public, do not judge another until you have stood in his place, do not give someone a bad name, do not cause someone to lose his livelihood and much more. The internet becomes a cesspool of gossip and more than one person has already lost their life over this.
A woman write in that she was on line in a bank. Of course I shall mention no names, and not even the name of the bank. That is called Loshon harah, or slander, the evil tongue. But we can learn from the case.
She is on line at the bank and has a number. But when her number comes she is not called. She is skipped over. Now of course this is not right. Of course every customer deserves to have their turn. But the questions are why did this happen, and what can and should be done about it.
The woman becomes furious. She admits that she throws a public temper tantrum. She admits that she had "issues" before with this bank employee. (obviously not a pleasant experience for the bank employee either) and then she states that "she has a baby". i.e. she feels entitled to preferential treatment.
OK, step by step.
Now the sage advise offered by all on this forum range from writing to the president of the bank, the central office of major crimes..etc. i.e. "Punish the bastard", bring him to justice. One writer even compared him to a Nazi and asked me if I would suggest appeasement with a Nazi.
Now let's slow down for a moment before this bank employee is crucified for crimes against humanity.
One of the things the Torah teaches is Do not judge another until you have stood in his place.
I have stood in his place.
I worked for two years in a bank and it was enough for me. I recall the customers, coming up to the counter with all their personal issues. Perhaps they had a bad night, perhaps they had a fight with their spouse. Perhaps they could not find parking. And they let it all out on me.
Veteran bank employees guided me not to take this personally. But it was difficult. At times you just want to tell them to get their lives in order before coming to the bank. (being polite here).
The guy or woman behind the counter is not being paid well and is being subject to constant abuse. I am at the post office on a daily basis and I see it first hand. I see how hard the clerks are working and I know what they are earning. I see the constant abuse and I try to be understanding.
Yes, I am also frustrated. Yes, I also wish they would hire more employees. Yes, I do not like spending the better part of my morning at the post office but I am careful not to let it out at the poor clerk. I have been there, I understand.
I have also learned a valuable lesson that I wish to share with others, that would explain my comment on the forum that perhaps rather than complain to the board of war crimes this woman might reach out to the guy and buy him a cup of coffee.
Here is my story, and as we say, my transgressions I mention today. I bring groups of students to various historical sites and museums around Israel. Usually my groups are 10 - 20 people but on this one occasion it was only 7. As such I did not contact the office for "Group activities". I just showed up. That was a mistake.
The guy in charge of groups, lets' call him Joshua, stopped me. Hey you! That is a group you have there, you need to show me your group registration. I did not have one. I told him that seven people is not a group. He said seven people is a group. I told them that according to the Bible a group is a minimum of ten. He said while that may be true for the Bible it is not true for this venue and I needed to make a group reservation.
I was in a bind. I had a group of seven, or, seven individuals, whom I did not want to disappoint. So I tried to sneak them in. Without going into detail it lead to some harsh words being exchanged. It was not nice.
I thought about this. This man does not have the most important job in the world. Unlike me he is not having an impact all over the world. He does not have thousands of people listening to his words or seeking his advice. I challenged him on the one area where he is boss, his job. I was wrong.
I was wrong and I knew it. So what did I do. I did something revolutionary, spectacular, unheard of. I apologized.
The next time I came to that venue I knew that most likely I would face this man again. What would I do? How would the encounter go? (would it be like that woman at the bank who ended up being skipped?).
I bought the man a cup of coffee. I asked at the cafeteria what Josh likes to drink. I bought him coffee and cake. I came with my entire group and I said, Group, this is Josh, he is in charge of the group activities, everyone say Hi to Josh. I gave him the cake and coffee and I explained that I was wrong. I did not read the website and I did not realize that seven counts here as a group.
And how did things work out? As I am writing this I am smiling. I can't wait to see him every time I bring a group to this venue. I buy him some coffee, I go up to him and say Hello my friend. He gets out of his seat and says, Moshe my friend, there is none like you and sometimes even hugs me. And the entire group greets him.
So when my comment on this forum differed from all the others, when unlike the others I did not call for the man to be fired, shamed, perhaps leading to his family's ruin. No, I said, buy the man a cup of coffee! and everyone on the forum thought I was a fool, or worse!
Can you imagine, the next time this young angry frustrated woman who has had "issues" before, comes into the bank the next time she has a cup of coffee in her hands. She walks right up to the guy and says, Hey, I thought you could use a cup of coffee. I know it is a tough job. Can you imagine?
And the heavens will rejoice. May He who makes peace in the his heavens make peace here on earth.
And here's a cup of coffee for you Shuki.