Dear Debra

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Dear Debra,
I’ve attended weddings on the wrong day, gone to events at the Terrace Gardens instead of the Garden Terrace, searched for a restaurant on Main Street East when it was located on Main Street West. Why does this keep happening to me, and what can I do to remember things better?

— Doesn’t Know Her Left From Her Right

Dear Doesn’t Know,
I was struck by your dilemma of remembering, given that one of Judaism’s bywords is zachor or remember. Why not take a page from your people and codify a way to remember what is important.

Print a stack of “zachor” cards that have space for you to pencil in info for the following pre-set prompts: Where, what time, address, contact person, contact’s cell, and what do I need to bring? Every night before you go to bed, review the next day’s events and fill in the blanks on one of your pre-printed “zachor” cards. Put the card, and any needed items — yoga mat, wedding gift, etc. — with your car keys.

The zachor cards must become your own personal bible. Don’t leave home without one. This won’t help you know right from left, but it will definitely help you get where you need to be, on time and with the right stuff.

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Dear Debra,
My son took a brand new book out of the library that has a tear-out poster in the back. He loves these posters and has them from other books in the series.

He asked the librarian if he can have the poster, and she said no. Do I let him take it anyway? I know if it’s not him, it’s going to be the next kid.

— To Tear or Not to Tear

Dear Tear,
Although the 10 Commandments were inscribed upon stone, the eighth — Thou shalt not steal — also applies to tear-out posters in a library book.

Allow your son to remove the poster and you teach him that it’s OK to steal, OK to ignore authority, and that his wants override the enjoyment of others. You didn’t say if the posters your son already has were purchased or pilfered; I do hope it’s the former.

Permitting your son to steal using the rationale “if it’s not him it will be the next kid” sets a terrible precedent. Your attitude assumes the worst of humanity (everyone’s a thief) and green-lights future misdeeds. If the next kid is going to steal a candy bar, so can he. If the next kid is going to spread cyber hate, so can he.

If your son has an allowance, have him use his savings to buy the book. Or give him some extra chores to earn the money to make the purchase. That way you teach him that he has the power within himself to achieve what he wants without resorting to crime.

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Dear Debra,
My husband was out walking and saw our neighbor intoxicated and half-hanging out the open door of his car, which was parked at the curb on our street. He did not get involved or call the police because he said two teenaged girls were already there speaking to the man. We don’t know these neighbors well, but from the weekend noise they seem to be big partiers and drinkers. This neighbor has had health problems in the past, and I hate to think that he could be out driving drunk. He could kill someone. What can we do?

— Neighborly

Dear Neighborly,
Would that your husband (the lone adult present in the scenario you describe) had gotten involved and called the police. You say your neighbor has had health problems.

You also assume they are big partiers and drinkers from their weekend noise. In this specific case, you have no way of knowing if he was indeed drunk, in pain from his illness or reacting to medication. The police could have assessed the situation and acted accordingly.

An upcoming Torah portion (Shoftim or Judges, Deuteronomy 19:15) instructs us that when it comes to giving testimony against someone, two or more witnesses are required. Neither you nor your husband would have made reliable witnesses in this instance.

When and if future opportunities arise, be friendly to your neighbors. Be watchful, not snoopy, when and if you see your neighbor driving in the neighborhood. Should this episode repeat itself, contact the authorities, remaining with your neighbor until they arrive. But unless and until that happens, you must give your neighbor the benefit of the doubt and maybe even some cookies next time you’re baking. RT

Debra Darvick shares her unique take on life, books and more at DebraDarvick.com.
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