Do you know what is going on in the life of your close neighbour?
There are some people who presume that they do because they talk with their neighbours on a regular basis.
Then there are others who – though they aren’t aware of every day-to-day event in their neighbours’ life – presume that they’d be told about the ‘big’ events.
Then there are those who aren’t close with their close neighbours and may not even be aware of the ‘big’ events.
And then there are those who don’t even know the name of their close neighbours, let alone anything going on in their life.
Yet wherever you think you are according to our Gemara (Ketubot 23a), there may be significant life events of close neighbours that even those in the first category are not aware of. As the Gemara explains דעבידי אינשי דמקדשי ודמגרשי בצנעא – ‘it happens that sometimes people choose to get married, or to get divorced, in secret’ without telling all their neighbours.
Perhaps there may be some of us who can’t quite understand why someone would marry or divorce without telling their close neighbours. But I can assure you that, while every case is different, it happens – which means that even a close neighbour may be undergoing a major life transition and you don’t even know about it.
There are a lot of meditations that we can reflect upon as we begin the period of the 9 days ending with Tisha B’Av, but a simple yet worthwhile one is that, despite appearances, we often don’t know what even close neighbours and friends are going through.
So be sensitive. Be kind. Be understanding. And be forgiving.