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.