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Parashat Vayera – Excuse me! That’s confidential


A show host is grilling his guest on various aspects of his life during a radio interview. 

The guest answers question after question on the nitty-gritty of his relationships and life experiences: from the reason why he divorced his first wife, to the details of his current relationship, etc.  Finally, the host asks his guest:

“So tell me sir, how much do you earn a year?”

Aghast, the guy suddenly clams up: “Excuse me! That’s confidential information…”

Indeed, the boundaries of privacy have truly become blurred.

While one would think that with the explosion of such emotion and closeness, respect would be heightened, instead, the divorce rate is extremely high, and politicians we ought to hold in esteem are being sued.   

Perhaps the reason for this is a misunderstanding in the term respect.

Respect is born in the moment I allow for another person’s privacy. I don’t have to touch and feel. I need to value every individual and give them their space. 

Interestingly enough, we don’t allow others to touch or know about the things we value. Because, we expect them to respect our privacy. Well, what is the most valuable asset we have?

There is nothing more valuable than our “sense of self”. Not every encounter is a personal connection. Separating business from getting personal can get tricky. 

That’s why the Talmud set boundaries. It is not merely about a borderline that we observe, or a level of confidentiality that we don’t cross; it is about building a society that is forced to respect each other.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Mendy