Oy Vey! Have I Got a Problem

Oy Vey! Have I Got a Problem

Got a problem? Email Rachel Stein at oyvey@atljewishtimes.com, describing your problem in 250 words or less.

Toco Hills resident Rachel Stein writes about spirituality and, working with readers, tries to help community members deal with dilemmas.

Dear Rachel,

My day was going perfectly well until I sat down at my friend Naomi’s kitchen table for coffee and a welcomed break. While she puttered about, my eyes wandered to her refrigerator, and I found myself smiling and admiring pictures of her children at various stages. And then I saw IT and my eyes grew wide.

Sheila, my long-time friend and acquaintance, was marrying off her son. Granted, I’m not inside her closest circle, but I certainly expected to receive an invitation to her simcha. After all, when you know someone for 20 years, you’d think they would want to share their joy with you! Yet, there it was in plain view – the invitation to her son’s wedding! But mine hadn’t come…

I aimed for a casual tone.

“Sheila’s invitation is beautiful,” I murmured. “When did it come?”

“Oh, a few days ago,” Naomi replied glibly. “Are you going?”

“I’d like to,” I said honestly, swallowing over the lump in my throat. “I’ll have to check my calendar.”

Especially since I wasn’t invited, I will most definitely have something else lined up.

“So, how are things?” Naomi plopped down opposite me, and we cupped our steaming mugs and took sips.

“Good, good, nothing much new.” My voice quivered, and I wondered if my visceral feelings were transparent.

“Well, I do have some news.” Naomi leaned forward, her eyes sparkling.

I struggled to focus on what she was saying, because my mind was in turmoil. Had the invitation gotten lost? Or am I really unwelcome?


Uninvited and Insulted

Dear Uninvited and Insulted,

What a tough dilemma!

If you are 99 percent sure that the omission was a mistake, then you could easily approach Sheila and just tell her, “My invitation never came, but I’m really looking forward to sharing in your simcha. Would you mind giving me another one?”

End of story.

However, doubts are invading your thoughts, and you’re simply not sure. There are probably many possibilities that are flickering in your mind’s eye: is she scrimping on money and doing her best to minimize the guest list? Or did the invitation get lost? And if it’s the fault of our postal service, Sheila will be hurt if you simply don’t show up! Yes, there are some people who check back with those who didn’t respond so they can give the caterer an accurate count. But not everyone does that.

If you were certain that would happen, your issue could be resolved if she calls you.

As most of you probably know by now, I typically advocate for honest communication. Overall, I believe it’s a healthier way to go and really builds relationships. However, in this case, I feel differently. A direct confrontation can push Sheila into an unenviable position. What if she did have to cut corners on her guest list? Then, if you tell her your invitation got lost, she’ll feel compelled to invite you.

So, how can you get to the bottom of this? Would you consider approaching a close friend of Sheila’s and asking if she knows whether Sheila had to cut financial corners? If she responds that everyone and their third cousin are invited to this wedding, then I believe you can rely on your longstanding friendship and tell Sheila that your invitation didn’t arrive. She’ll be so happy you let her know! But if you hear that they are struggling, I would recommend silence.

Then the question segues: How do you maintain your friendship with Sheila and not allow the insult to fester?

That’s a tough one. Where to start? Can you try to put yourself in Sheila’s position, assuming the money is simply not there, and intuit her predicament? Can you muster up joy for her and truly be happy for her milestone even though you won’t be a guest at her wedding? Isn’t that what true friendship is all about – altruistic giving without wondering, “What’s in it for me?”

I’m not saying it’s easy. Rejection is painful. And yet, as we climb the mountains of life, we hope to strengthen our muscles and grow into champions of strength, endurance, resilience and love.

Best of luck,


read more: