Oftentimes we keep upcoming significant personal, professional and financial transitions and decisions private to just us, our spouse (where relevant), and our very closest friends until they become public to avoid the spread of information and the jinxing of those decisions at the wrong time.
These transitions or decisions may relate to an upcoming move overseas, or the fact that you are planning to leave your job. Perhaps you’ve just gotten engaged, or you recently found out that you are pregnant. Perhaps you’ve just made a significant financial investment or have just won some money in the lottery. Or perhaps you’ve just lost your job, or it looks like your marriage is to soon end in divorce.
The question is why, if we trust other friends, family members and colleagues beyond our very spouse and closest friends, are we reluctant to share these upcoming changes with them? The answer is that there are two types of people we trust: those we tell things to whom we trust won’t tell anyone else what we told them, and those we tell things to who may tell others, but who won’t deliberately share what we’ve told them with those who may have the ability to scupper our decisions.
The problem, as noted in our Gemara (Ketubot 109b) in relation to this second group, is that חַבְרָךְ חַבְרָא אִית לֵיהּ וְחַבְרָא דְחַבְרָךְ חַבְרָא אִית לֵיהּ – ‘your friend has a friend and your friend’s friend has a friend’, meaning that even when you tell this second-tier friend, family member, or colleague, about an upcoming personal, professional or financial change of status who you trust won’t deliberately tell those who may have the ability to scupper your decision, the people that they speak to may then tell others etc. and this information may eventually reach the very individual or individuals whom you really wanted to avoid knowing about this transition or decision until it has been finalized.
Overall, while the word ‘trust’ seems so simple, knowing whom we can trust about different things is a complicated business, and while a friend, family member or colleague may trust you about certain things, they may hold back other things from you. And why? Because חַבְרָךְ חַבְרָא אִית לֵיהּ וְחַבְרָא דְחַבְרָךְ חַבְרָא אִית לֵיהּ – ‘your friend has a friend and your friend’s friend has a friend’, meaning that they trust you not to do them harm – but perhaps not enough to believe that you won’t share what they’ve said.
Ultimately, while trust is something that is earnt, the deepest of level of trust is a rare quality, which is why so many of us keep upcoming significant personal, professional and financial transitions and decisions private to just us, our spouse (where relevant), and our very closest friends – until they become public.