Weddings are chock full of excitement and planning, but as with any big life-changing event, something is bound to go wrong, right? I always say: As long as the couple is happy, the more minor details can be waved away. Until they happen …
Outfitting our two daughters proved to be challenging since the bride, their older sister, had a very specific color scheme in mind. Everyone had to wear a combination of either black and gold or black and white – no exceptions allowed. Well, what if we couldn’t find it in the right size? “Then have it custom-made!” she insisted. I groaned but was determined to try my best to keep her happy. And so, off we went on a gown hunt, sniffing out those colors while trying to be mindful of a limited budget.
Eureka! We were able to borrow something perfect that fit our younger daughter, and now, only one remained to be outfitted. Hard as we tried, nothing was materializing (pun intended). And then a long-distance acquaintance (a friend’s friend) made me an offer. She had a black and white gown that could work for our daughter. However, there was a catch. She paid $600 to have this gown custom-made and was willing to rent it out for the “paltry” sum of $200. Initially she asked for $300, but I told her I could only handle $200.
The gown was brought to us by one of my married children, who lived in the same city as the owner, and my daughter was happy. It came with a beautiful, decorative belt that really “made the gown.”
The wedding passed in a haze of joy, like a beautiful dream, and then it was over.
My daughter changed out of her borrowed gown, and we carefully packed it up. We placed the belt in its own small bag, and then zipped it up inside the larger bag holding the gown. There was a sense of relief as we bid the gown farewell, sending it back to its owner in pristine condition.
Several weeks later, I got a surprising and disturbing text.
“Hi, Janie. Someone wants to try the gown. But the belt is missing. Do you have it?”
“No,” I replied. “I sent it back! It’s in its own bag inside the gown bag!”
“It’s not here,” came the return text, and I groaned, my stomach clenching in knots.
“Please check with my daughter,” I replied. “We definitely sent it back.”
But two days later, the dreaded response played across my screen.
“She doesn’t have the belt. She says she looked everywhere.”
Well, Rachel, now what do we do?
A Responsible Borrower
Dear Responsible Borrower,
What a frustrating experience! You did everything right, yet somehow, the belt went poof and disappeared. How do you handle such an interaction?
I think you have several options. You can simply cross your arms and say, “I did my part, and this is not my fault. Not only that, but I paid you a hefty sum of money already!”
I leave it to your imagination to conjure up her response.
You can go beyond the call of duty and offer to pay what she feels the belt is worth.
If she asks for an unreasonable amount, can you compromise or perhaps split the cost between the two of you?
If the two of you cannot achieve a peaceful resolution, our rabbis are very familiar with the Torah laws governing borrowing and resultant damages and are equipped to guide you towards the proper course of action. Can you mutually agree to abide by one rabbi’s directive?
Last, prayer helps! You did yours; ask G-d to do His!
If you want my vote, I would probably opt to pay the amount she wants – if it seems reasonable. Peaceful relations are so important. We often spend a great deal on physical amenities. But who can put a value on peace?
Good luck! I hope the belt shows up in a magical moment, making your whole dilemma disappear.