Home Perspectives Advice Is it ever acceptable to lie?

Is it ever acceptable to lie?


Dear Ella,
I am very happy for my friend Ruthie, whose daughter just announced she’s getting married this summer. Ruthie and her daughter have immersed themselves in wedding planning. Last week, she asked me to go dress shopping with her. “As the mother of the bride, I have to look amazing,” she said. I agreed. Ruthie is a beautiful woman inside and out, but she is also a large woman. She sashayed out of the dressing room and announced, “This is it, I love it!” I thought I would faint. She had on a tight, mermaid-style, gold shimmering dress. Every roll was accentuated and the dress looked like something I’d seen on a retro disco show in the 1970s. I didn’t tell her she looked awful. Instead, I simply shook my head. She could probably tell from the horror on my face how much I disapproved. She didn’t try on any others and we left without the dress. Ruthie’s been quite cold to me ever since. Should I have lied to make her happy?
Say Yes to the Dress

Dear Say Yes to the Dress,
You start off this question calling Ruthie your friend. Usually friends expect the truth, especially when they ask for it.
Ruthie took you dress shopping so that you could give her your opinion. Maybe your disapproval of a dress she thought she looked great in forced her to take a more honest look in that mirror. Your disapproving gesture was unexpected, inconvenient and disappointing.
Let’s put this in perspective. If your friendship can topple on the opinion of a dress that hasn’t yet been purchased, then there is something deeper going on.
Pick up the phone and talk to Ruthie like you always have. If you continue to sense that coldness, then you need to talk about this incident and put it behind you. Apologize if you have to, and just tell her the dress was not your taste and that she would look beautiful in anything she chooses. Is it a lie? You bet. Sometimes a little white lie can be the path of least resistance when two people don’t agree. This is not a life-or-death decision. Let Ruthie’s daughter help her pick out the perfect dress. Your job as her friend is to let her know that you’re there for her.

Dear Ella
I love going to shul on Shabbat. It’s not that I’m so observant, but I enjoy meeting up with the guys and talking. We laugh, discuss politics, our wives, sports and tell jokes. It’s usually a lot of fun. But this past Saturday, the talk was about money and charities and they all spouted off about their philanthropic accomplishments.
I’m clearly not in the same league and instead of owning up to it, I lied and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I could kick myself for not being truthful, but the damage is done. I didn’t go to shul this week, just to avoid them. Now what?
Money Misery

Dear Money Misery
Although giving your hard-earned money to a worthy cause is extremely commendable, it is not the only way to give. Sometimes giving your time is a lot harder and even more meaningful.
These men and you have bonded over time and become friends. They enjoy you and you enjoy them – not because of your financial worth. You don’t have to be alike and in the same tax bracket to enjoy each other’s company. There’s no reason to compare your achievements or charitable contributions with any of these guys.
You’ve created a camaraderie that goes beyond your financial worth. Imagine the tables were turned and they had no money and you were the one with the deep pockets. How would you feel if they suddenly dropped your friendship or lied to you because you had money?
It’s hard to retract now, but that would be the way to wipe the slate clean. Wait till a day when the conversation lends itself to bringing it up nonchalantly, set the record straight and then put it behind you.