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Long Time No See!


Question:

Someone I haven’t seen in years came up to me the other day and warmly greeted me. He greeted me by my name but I couldn’t remember his name and was afraid to ask him it to not embarrass him or me. It was awkward. Is this normal and what should I do next time?



AskTheRabbi.org answered:

It’s perfectly normal. We are all only human and our memories sometimes fall short. In Judaism a person who feels humble and displays a certain amount of “human” embarrassment is even considered a lofty and admirable soul. Perhaps the best thing to do is to be perfectly frank with the other person. Confess that the passage of time has caused you to forget his name and other basic details. It would be proper, however, to apologize for your lapse.

Once he tells you his name it will invariably trigger memories about him which will enable you to ask the right questions expected from one whom he hasn’t seen for so many years. Remember that people generally do not expect you to remember them before they identify themselves since the passage of time changes their appearance and dulls your memory. Therefore, no abnormal embarrassment for him or you in being honest is to be expected. So go right ahead and excuse yourself for forgetting his name and enjoy your reunion.


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