The Matzav Shmoooze: Sensitive Speech


babiesDear readers,

Frum Yidden are always trying to grow. We have our ups and we have our downs, but even the weakest among us know in our hearts that our duty is to grow and become better people. I would like people to realize how we can be more sensitive. If you think about someone’s situation before you speak, you can be more sensitive.

We have to be so careful about what we say. Words can hurt so much, even though a person doesn’t even mean to say anything hurtful at all. We must think before we talk.

Here are some examples:

1. To someone who is looking to get married, but isn’t yet, it hurts when a person says things like, “My husband…,” “My wife…,” “My shaitel…,” etc. Don’t ask them, “How old are you?”  Minimize talking about your spouse to someone who has not found his or her shidduch yet.

2. To someone who does not have children yet, it hurts when a person talks about their children in front of them. When you complain how tired you are and how the kids kept you up all night, it is very painful. You show a lack of appreciation for having children, which they long for so much. It hurts when you ask them how long they have been married. When you say things like, “Oh, you have free time,” or, “When you have children you’ll see,” it hurts. Likewise, it hurts when you ask them to be kvatter at a bris.  They know you are doing it to be kind, but they don’t want to be singled out in a crowd and everyone seeing that they need the segulah to have children.

3. To someone who doesn’t have a job or needs money, don’t talk about your job or the new things you just bought.  Don’t ask questions like, “Have you found a job yet?” or, “Did you see the newest…?” It hurts a lot.

Just look at the other person’s situation.

There are numerous other examples. Think before you speak.

F. W.


The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on that allows all readers to share a thought or analysis, long or short, one sentence or several paragraphs long, on any topic, for readers to mull over and comment on. Email submissions to

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  1. This a very valid point.

    One item that I would slightly disagree with. The kvatter part, and similar things. It all depends on how it’s said/asked. If it is done with true sensitivity, privacy and respect, it may not be so hurtful.

    I would think that offering help can be OK, if done properly. If asked correctly, then the couple will be able to decline the offer easily.

  2. also keep in ming…
    1. sometimes you see a group of people at a wedding don’t only go over and say “HI” to the newlymarried, and ignor the singles.
    2. At a vort or wedding singles are usually more sensative then, if you are talking near them don’t wisper something to someone else so the single doesn’t hear, or the single has to stand there and act as if they didn’t hear!! If it was so important it could wait till later.
    3. Just also try to act NORMAL to singles and couple that don’t have children yet, we are not your nebach cases.

  3. i must say that as someone who didn’t have children right away, being offered kvatter was no offense. perhaps finding out from a close relative what the person’s attitude s towards kvatter would be smarter.some people are dying to get kvatter.
    regarding the other issues: yes, wining about how your children keep you up is probably heartless, but acting as if you don’t have children can make the person think you are treating them like a nebach.
    bottom line: treat them like the normal human beings thy are, show sensetivity, and use common sense.

  4. Well said. No matter how much you tell yourself that what Hashem has prepared for you, another cannot touch, it can still hurt a lot. I have had much difficulty walking through the “pretty house” part of our neighborhood. These homes are so lovely. I used to feel physical pain from it. Not to mention those with good jobs, loving spouses … one day I somehow was able to see the blessings I do have. Baruch Hashem. It’s the only way I stay sane.

  5. I also didn’t have children right away, and was uncomfortable when people talked about their children, their hospital stays while giving birth, and other issues.
    I’ve learned never to assume when you are talking with a stranger that they are married (even if lady is wearing a sheitel), have parents, children, a job…
    Nonetheless on the flip side, you can’t always step on eggshells since sometimes the one who is hurting,is hurting so much that anything you say will trigger something. You have to be normal. I had a seminary friend who got married several years after me.I remember every time I saw her (we lived in different cities and didn’t see each other often) I’d find a neutral topic and ask about her job. Finally one time she said to me, “There is more to me than my job!” I realized after that comment that I did my part and tried to be sensitive and when she’d find her zivug (which she did) she’ll stop analyzing other’s words. We can try our best, be sensitive yet normal and if we still offend, then we know we did our share and Hashem understands.

  6. Also when you see a person looking tired or distressed etc. Dont be a clown and ask them “why do you look so down”? it does no good! instead, converse with he/she try to come up with an interesting topic of shared interest..

  7. “Don’t ask questions like, “Have you found a job yet?””

    Yeah, say nothing and then we’ll read an article about the insensitive people who don’t even care to ask whether a person found a job or how the job-hunting is going.

    My favorite: Those who gripe about the people who give them brachos to find a shidduch. Yup, it’s really insensitive to care about someone and bless them. Gotta remember that.

  8. #8, JR, your sarcasm is not helpful. Take the advice of #3, Jeff, -be sensitive and use common sense. Of course giving a bracha from the heart is a lovely thing to do, but an older single or a childless couple may not want to have attention drawn to their situation, and may not want to be constantly reminded of it. My pet peeve- an older single who finally finds their zivug, or a childless couple who are finally blessed, do not want to hear what a miracle, what an amazing mazel tov, what an excitement, this is. They want, finally, to join the ranks of all the “normal” people before them. Give them the same warm Mazel Tov you gave their friends year before. Now is not the time to remind them of the long, difficult years they spent waiting for this, or to tell them how wonderful they finally look now that this has happened, implying that the pain they thought they were so successfully hiding was embarrassingly clear to everyone all along. I was appalled to be told about a relative, “Doesn’t she look beautiful now? She’ so changed!” I regret that I was so shocked I did not say anything in response!

  9. To # 7. Yosef HaTzadik would still be in jail, if he would have followed your advice.

    Cherev Pipiyos, the tongue is a double edged sword, words heal and words kill.Remember that Medrash about the man that got the lion’s milk? Even the same words, can heal one and kill another. All depends on your relationship with the person, the setting of the conversation, your tone, and your facial expressions. You need to talk from your heart and think before you speak.

    Articles in Magazines and on websites wont sustitute common sense.

  10. Dont say something like Iy”h by you bekariv “mamesh” amen v’amen etc. dont say anything overdone… mit Sachel!

  11. A lot of people who are single, childless, etc, don’t want to be treated differently. They want people to just speak normally about their lives, without keeping certain things secret, in their presence. Can you imagine how painful it can be when your friend just had a baby, and let everyone know but you? A persom who is lacking a spouse or child already feels excluded enough, without the people who are important in their life excluding them by deliberately not sharing their simchas with them, too. They would really prefer to be treated just like everyone else.

  12. Having been single for what felt like forever, I agree with those who recommend judiciously sharing your life vs. ignoring/shunning. As a single girl, I DID want to hear about what married life was like. As a childless woman, I DID want to hear what raising a baby was like. I didn’t want my friends to stop being authentic just b/c my life hadn’t caught up to theirs.

  13. JR – From your comment, it doesn’t appear as though you are single or were in shidduchim for a long time. When a single person is at a large gathering, be it for a simcha or for a function, I feel it is inappropriate to bring up that great tzar in their life. BH I am a happy person that wants to get married and I believe in the power of brachos. But, when I am at a simcha, please don’t bring up a subject that is very painful to me. You don’t know what kind of shidduch parshah I have just been through etc. Let me smile and join in the simcha and not focus on my own personal nisayon.