the wrong vocabulary, however. It's also a matter of delicacy and empathy. On one occasion, Yochanan Chakukaah went out to the countryside to inspect the crops. When he returned to his village, he was asked, "Did the wheat turn out well?" Rather than disappoint people with the news that the wheat was doing badly, he simply changed the subject: "The barley turned out well," he answered. Bad news, we learn from the Talmud, should be broken gently, with consideration for the sufferer.
from Adam Kirsch: Tablet: The Talmud's Abstractions Live in Concrete Examples About Candles and Weasels