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Mendy Kaminker

How to deal with annoying people: A biblical guide

“Rabbi, what do I do with annoying people? They are not harming me in any way, just really annoying. Thanks, James”

Hey James!

First, I am not crazy about the term annoying people. And I will tell you why: who said they are annoying people? Maybe you are the only one who finds them annoying? Perhaps they are wonderful people going through a tough time, which is why they act the way they do?

Instead, let’s address the question: what do we do when we encounter annoying behavior.

In broad terms, you have two options to choose from:

1. Let it slide.
2. Try to stop it.

How would you know which option is the correct one? Just like everything in life, it depends.

And to find the best answer, let’s look at the Torah. We can actually see the answer in this week’s Parsha!

This week we are reading about how the Jewish people were threatened by two enemies.

The first enemy, described at the beginning of the Parsha, is the Egyptians. The second one is the Amalek nation.

G-d had very different instructions for each enemy.

When the Egyptians chased the Jewish people, G-d told them to avoid any war. Instead, let them march forward and pay no attention to the possible threat. But when it came to the Amalekites, G-d told them to wage war against them.

Why the difference?

The Rebbe brings a beautiful answer.

Look at the location of each enemy. The Egyptians were behind them, and the Amalekites were in front, blocking the Jews’ way to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah.

So while they could have ignored the Egyptians and moved forward, they didn’t have a choice but to confront the Amalekites, so they could reach their destination!

So, if you encounter a behavior that is bothering you, you need to ask yourself: what will happen if I will “let it slide” and do not do anything about it? Can I still accomplish what I need to? Can I still do my G-d’s given mission in life?

If the answer is yes, then you can keep on moving ahead. It would be best if you learned not to be bothered by it (practice deep breathing!!), but overall you can pay less attention to that behavior.

If, however, you are being blocked from accomplishing what you need to in life, and your way towards “Mount Sinai” is obstructed… you might have no choice but to deal with it.

To talk to the person; to speak to others who can influence that person; and while doing it, being very sensitive not to hurt their feelings. Still, avoid avoiding the situation and do what you can to solve it.

Good luck!

About the Author
Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the Chabad Rabbi of Hackensack, and an editorial member of Chabad.org.
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