Opinion: Can I Please Help You?


helpBy KG

Taking down the sukkah after Yom Tov, I was approached by the newly married son-in-law of the neighbor who was looking for something to do. He kindly asked me, “Can I help you with your sukkah?” Since I wasn’t expecting his help, and not really being too comfortable with him, I kindly refused his help. I smiled and (lied to) him that my sukkah is a one-person sukkah, and I’ll finish it myself.Truth is, I could’ve really used his help. Why did I refuse it?

Yes, I was somewhat uncomfortable to start working with someone I hardly know. But thinking more about it, I realized that had he offered me differently I would’ve easily accepted.

His offer was, “How can I help you?” That means I had to realize that I have a problem that needs to be solved, or a need that requires solving. But I didn’t know that I had a problem or a need, since I was expecting to take the sukkah down on my own.

Instead, had he come with his hammer and drill and said, “Let me help you with this beam or tying up the s’chach,” I would’ve gladly accepted his offer. I would’ve finished the job earlier and easier, and would’ve made a new acquaintance in the process.

When you look for a job or career, keep this in mind. If you approach business with the attitude of “Can I please help you?” you are only going to find takers from those who already know they need help. For every company or business that knows they need help, there are countless others desparately need the help you can give them but don’t even realize it.

{KG/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. I like to phrase it as “Can I [assit you/be of assistance] in any way”? This makes the potential recepient less likely to feel like they are helpless.

  2. Im not sure who wrote this, but if I was aware of it and I was a psychologist or social worker id probably hand you my business card.

    Why such stories are posted is beyond me.Is there a lack of quality material out there?

  3. There is nothing wrong with saying can I help you with your sukkah – If you need help, you answer, yes please – You should feel comfortable giving someone an opportunity to help you and do a mitzvah.

  4. i probably would also have politely turned down the offer of help but I like to think that I would not turn around and blame the fellow for the way he offered and construct an entire negative theory about how he phrased it.

  5. the above post is very foolish. Understand that your kind son in law was trying to tell you I appreciate what you have done for me and now its time for pay back in a small way…

    Please wake up and do not think that he is happy that you turned him down.

    H A T Z L O C H A

  6. I would have welcomed him with a warm smile and said, THANKS, I SEE YOU CAN READ MINDS, I always do best with a helping hand,,,,,,,,, (sing it to the Beatles tune.)

  7. #8,7,6…., chill, the dude wasn’t saying that the son-in-law of his neighbor did anything wrong, nor did he imply that the S-I-Law was pleased to be turned away, but simply, being that this dude was obviously more of the shy type,he was not about to say yes when he didn’t know what he needed help with,which, though insensible happens to some people when they are introduced to new situations (the baseless nervousness). He likewise said, that Had the the guy offered to do a specific thing, he would not have felt the same unease in inviting him to help, not that the guy should have offered in a different way, but that he would not be caught off guard, and the guy did nothing wrong.