Thursday, August 6, 2009

Consider who you are talking to.

When doing research, consider who you are talking to.

If you are talking to a close friend of yours who also knows the other side, then you are on more even ground, as you know what their standards are and how they judge, and you can put the answers in a proper prospective. I

f you do not know the person you are calling for information, be careful what weight you put on the answers. If something you hear is raising a flag, ask specific questions to clarify what you are hearing, you may have misunderstood or the person at the other end meant something different. It is much easier to clarify things right away, rather that later. Also, do not automatically say no. Do further research on that one point until you are very sure that the facts are true, and it is something undesirable to you.

Some other possible questions: What is their connection to the Rebbe? What part does the Rebbe play in their lives? (this is not a “meshichist” or “anti” question). Are the parents hands on parents or more laissez faire. Was there sholom bayis in their home? Do they have a lot of emotional baggage? Is she open-minded? ( what does open minded mean to you?) Is the family open-minded? Are they straightforward and honest, or is there a hidden agenda, and you don’t really know their intentions? Are they open to change, or do they dread it? How do they act with strangers: are they respectful with all kinds of people, janitors, cleaning ladies, shopkeepers, kids, secretaries yidden and goyim etc.? Are they a ‘good listener’? Are they always thinking of the next project, or do they take time to really give you their whole attention? Do they set attainable goals or just castles in the sky? Do they go with the flow, or do they know where they are going? Do they have a mashpia? Do they follow advice or prefer their own counsel? What is their conversation like? Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Centuries ago, Machiavelli (Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli born in 1469 and diplomat and adviser to the Medici family, known for his work “The Prince” and Discourses on Livy) noted in “The Prince”: “The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by things that seem, than by those that are.” Or as Rabbi Yehudah HaNossi (the prince) used to say: “Al tistakel b’kankan elah b’ma sheyeysh bo.” Don’t look at the flask, but at its contents.