Other Side of the Fence

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

We had a terrible storm in my area a few weeks ago. I had
massive debris on my lot. Trees down, some up to 60’ tall. It
is a difficult lot to access and it would have saved me
hundreds and hundreds of dollars to be able to access my
back yard though a neighbor’s drive and orchard so they
could pass brush over our fence instead of hauling it all
around the house. The neighbor said no, and chased off my
helping crew with an actual gun. Now I hear that his mother
has died. Normally I would write a lovely note, drop of a
casserole, and ask what I could do to lighten the family’s
burden. But I am angry as well as annoyed. Can I just slip a
note in his mailbox and be done. Or to I have to be more
neighborly than I feel?

Other Side of the Fence

Dear Other Side:

Good fences apparently don’t always make good neighbors.
Ultimately your neighbor has the right to decide that
damage to his orchard outweighs your costs to clean up. It
may be un-neighborly but it is well with both legal and
horticultural boundaries. I’m sure you are annoyed but at
some point letting go of your anger will improve not only
your relationship but your attitude towards life.

Losing a parent changes people. Do what you would
otherwise do. Write a personal note with an anecdote or two
about his mother. Perhaps cite some act of generosity,
though not too blatantly in contract to his actions. If you
don’t want to cook for him that’s understandable. Go to the
market and pick up something easy, even a pie, and leave it
on his doorstep with the condolence note. Then go about
your business. Also, start a list, if you don’t already have
one, of atonements to make next Yom Kippur. Put your
neighbor on it. Forgiveness is a much lighter burden to carry
than anger.