WHEN'S THE RIGHT TIME?
Rabbi Shimon Ben Elazar said: "Do not mollify your friend when he is angry, and do not console him when the dead person is still before him. And, don't ask him questions when he swears an oath (in anger). And, don't try to see him at the time of his sin."
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1. What do all of these statements share as a common denominator?
2. Why are these all inappropriate times for intervention?
3. What is Rabbi Shimon Ben Elazar worried about?
The Sages considered anger to be among the most destructive qualities of human behavior. Rabbi Shimon Ben Elazar sees striking similarities between anger and grief.
He cautions us not to try an engage a person in conversation when he is certain that they will not be ready to hear you.
It is better to wait for a moment when their heart is empty of rage and grief, so that it can be filled with consolation.
When will that time be? Rabbi Shimon does not tell us but we may assume it is anytime when anger and grief are not present. Thus the halacha teaches not to open a conversation with a mourner, but rather let the mourner begin the conversation so that we are signaled that he is ready to be consoled.