Monday, April 28, 2008

White Lies

I was reading an article on My Jewish Learning called May One Tell a White Lie? and I thought about lying. I'm generally not a liar. I have no patience to keep up with lies when and if I choose to lie, so therefore, out of laziness and for ethical reasons I choose not to lie. Much rather have everything out in the open, people will have to deal with the truth sooner or later.

What if the situation was different? Like with the example in the article, do you tell a guy his bride is pretty even if you don't think she is?

A friend of mine went shopping for a mothers day present. She came to my house, to show my family what she got her mom. She was so excited about the purchase. For about a week beforehand she was describing the necklace that her mom wanted, and how pretty it was; so when she came over, with the necklace, we naturally wanted to see it. Thankfully, I'm naturally cynical, so when I saw the necklace, and how impractical it was, I was able to get away with "whats your mom going to do with it, like wear it with what?"

But if I wasn't like that (like my sister is naturally sweeter than me), I would have nothing to say. My sister had no idea what to say. It was such an ugly necklace. I've never seen such an atrocity. After the girl left, my mom, sister and I were talking about how nasty the necklace looked, and then my sister asked my mom

"Ma, what would you do if we bought that necklace for you?"

And she was like "you wouldn't, you have good taste!"

So we were like "well, what if we didn't?"

And she was like "I'd wear it, tell you how scared I was that I'd break it (was a HUGE glass necklace), and then return it, this way you wouldn't feel bad"

And so that (plus the article I received by email) made me think about lying...Is it good to lie to make your kids or friends feel good? Luckily I was able to get away with not saying anything at all to my friend about what I thought about the necklace, but that's not always an option.

According to Hillel we're supposed to make the person feel good. But of course Shammai had something else to say.

21 comments:

The Candy Man said...

There are certain phrases from the Talmud that stick in one's mind. Can you tell a man his bride is pretty even if she isn't? The Talmud says, "After a man buys something, you tell him, you bought well!" It's a crude metaphor, but it's stuck with me.

Jessica said...

If that's the necklace her mom wanted, then it shouldn't bother the girl if you told her how you really feel about it or not. After all, the present is for her mother, not you.
As for lying in general, I've heard that for shalom bayis reasons you're supposed to lie. I'm with you though, I don't see any point in lying.

Moshe said...

Yep, for shalom bayis you gotta lie. Where was I and why am I late? Well, the daf yomi ran overtime and then the Rabbi wanted to speak with me about one of my friends. I wasn't [smoking weed/narghile with my homies, getting drunk, playing pool, etc].
Where did this lipstick come from? It's nothing, just met my sister at the store.
Whose panties are these? I bought them for you as a present. How come they don't look new? Well, I didn't really pay attention at the register, I think someone returned them.

frumskeptic said...

Jessica: She liked it too. She was really excited about it, and spent $75!!!! She woulda been upset.

Moshe said...

$75 for a piece of glass?!
You gotta tell her about bidz.com
Nice site, get my wife stuff there all teh time.

Jessica said...

moshe - With those examples the shalom bayis is gone already. What I was referring to is if your wife asks you "Do I look fat in this?" and she does, you'd be a wise man to lie about it.

frumskeptic said...

Not tryng to pick sides... but what if she's about to spend $275 on a skirt that really does make her look fat? She'll feel worse when no one compliments her in Public or whenever it is that she figures out she looks bigger

Moshe said...

Instead of saying "yes", you can say, "damn straight, like a bus during rush hour"
Then it's not so bad because it's funny.

Jessica said...

Coming from a woman, it is just as bad, if not worse. Women aren't big fans of men making jokes out of their insecurities, no matter what the man's intentions are.

Moshe said...

I tend to get away with a lot, and not just at home. Then again that's just me.

Jessica said...

That's probably not a good thing...

The Babysitter said...

1- About someone's bride being ugly. You don't have to lie. Everybody has a diffferent sence of what they think is pretty. Obvioulsy for this guy, his bride is pretty to him. Which is why by a wedding, there's a certain posuk said, something about the bride being pretty, and then a question is asked, how can you say such a thing if the bride is truly ugly, so the answer is because to the man marrying her, she is pretty, so its not a lie.
About the necklace, and clothes and other such things that people buy and you think its ugly, you don't have to outright lie and say "wow, its gorgeous" cause then that would be fake, but you can say something true, like the color matches something else, or just pick one detail about it and comment on that.
About Sholom bayis, I agree with Jessica, in those situations Moshe mentioned the Shalom bayis is already gone. But if lets say there's a vase that the husband got from his grandmother and the wife by mistake knocked it down. Then the husband comes home and find it on the floor. He asks his wife what happened, she is allowed to lie and say the kid knocked it over, for shalom bayis so her husband doesn't get angry at her. But then I would hope he won't take his anger out on the kid.

Moshe said...

Say the kid did it?!
You're kidding, right?
He'll yell at the kid, the kid might know the mother did it and you're also teaching bad stuff to the kid.

The Babysitter said...

Yea, I wasn't too happy about the idea either. I don't think I can do that to my kids.
That's just what I heard a Rav say on a shiur once about shalom bayis.

Moshe said...

Wow, great advice.
So are any of his kids in the "at risk" category?

The Babysitter said...

Actually one of his kids was in my class, and their all really good kids.
The girl actually told me that the way her father deals with her mothers shopping, is he gives her like an allowance and then she can buy what she wants with that money. Cause there are some husbands, that either don't let their wives shop, or they censor all their payments so it shouldn't come to too much, and treat them like a child. So here, she gets to have fun shopping, but yet she knows there's a budget, with a certain amount of money available, so she'll choose what she wants, but yet she can't buy everything.

mlevin said...

Babysitter - it could be an arranged marriage and groom had no choice but to marry her. So, yeah, he may think she's ugly and still marry her.

The Babysitter said...

mlevin: but to people still have arranged marriages these days? The Halacha says your allowed to go against your parents when choosing who you will marry. So if the guy really found the girl ugly and truly didn't want to marry her, he wouldn't be forced to, even if it was arranged. He can go to a Rabbi to help him out of it.

mlevin said...

"is he gives her like an allowance and then she can buy what she wants with that money."

Wow! and that not treating a wife like a child? What happened to marriage being a partnership? And this guy is a Rabbi?... And people think this is a great husband behaivor. I'm speachless.

The Babysitter said...

I may have remembered it wrong, I heard it many years ago. But it was something to that affect. She might not havce used the word allowance.

Your right marriage is a partnership!

He really is a good Rabbi...I may have made it sound worse than it is by mistake.

mlevin said...

Yes, people still have arranged marriages these days.

I suggest reading Naomi Regan's Jephte's daughter. Very descriptive.