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Path to Forgiveness    

Path to Forgiveness

The person concerned asked for forgiveness. I dutifully forgive the person but it doesn’t work – I know I haven’t really forgiven, but...


“Master of the Universe, I hereby forgive anyone who angered or antagonized me or who sinned against me…” [Prayer before retiring]

I’d always thought of myself as quite a forgiving person; I’ve never knowingly fallen out with anyone and although I suppose it’s inevitable that people will drift apart at various times during one’s life, I can only remember one time that I felt a distinct cooling in a particular relationship and that turned out to be more to do with my friend’s ambivalent feelings to Judaism than anything else.

Now an event had occurred which had challenged me well beyond my comfort zone and my ability to forgive was put to a severe test.

Someone who I greatly respected, for reasons only known to the person, acted in a way which caused me tremendous emotional pain and the fallout impacted on other areas of my life in quite far reaching ways.


After the situation had unfolded, I realised – as it turned out in an intellectual way – that HaShem was testing me. The circumstances seemed so totally abnormal and those around me at the time validated my view. However, this didn’t make me feel any better and didn’t alter the outcome.

And so I made plans, let’s be positive about this I said to myself, this must be my “lech lecha” moment; maybe I’ll go to Israel for a few months …or maybe not, maybe I’ll look for another job…or maybe not, maybe I’ll retrain…or maybe not.  Everyone said you look great; well, you would if you weren’t living with the strain I’d been under.

Time flies…my mind keeps racing, going over the same events, I decide things aren’t as they should be; I’ve decided to go to the doctor, this isn’t me, I can’t believe I’m contemplating this but if she suggests medication I’m going to say yes, but I’ll take it as a sign from HaShem; after all it will only work if HaShem wants it to.

Times flies… energy levels moving upwards, I’m starting to feel like me again.

Times flies … the person concerned has asked for forgiveness.  I dutifully forgive the person but it doesn’t work for me – I know I haven’t really forgiven but I have to accept it. When we see each we smile awkwardly – it’s difficult for both of us. I sense we both want to get back to the way it was before.

I have a very religious yetzer hara; it lives in Mea Shearim.  It invites itself over on Shabbat and drones on and on about what happened; how could the person have done that, they’re frum, blah, blah.  Go away, I say, you’re spoiling my Shabbat.  My yetzer hara doesn’t fall for that one. And now it turns up during Ellul and over Rosh Hashana. So I try a subterfuge; I invite my yetzer hara in and let it do its thing, I don’t try and fight it; surprisingly, it gives up and I don’t hear from it again.

I understand now that there is a big difference between intellectual knowledge and emotional awareness and that I caused myself unnecessary pain because I denied that I could feel such strong emotions; I denied the feelings of betrayal and just plain anger because I thought I was too virtuous, too religious to feel such negativity.

Times flies…I’m reading this book, The Garden of Emuna, and I’ve come to a halt.  I just read something that I really I want to brush to one side but I can’t. I’m beginning to realise that I did everything I shouldn’t have done: I never spoke to HaShem at the time of the event [too busy fire fighting!]; I didn’t really see the event as a message from HaShem; I appealed to, and tried to appease, the person who was causing me pain and, as a result, the situation worsened; I never did teshuva; I didn’t see that the situation was for the best.  And yes, maybe there was a bit of complacency beforehand.

Times flies…things are on the up. I talk to HaShem more directly now, although initially I found it difficult, I was so used to talking about Him, not to Him.

I’ll never know how things would have turned out had I internalized the rules of emuna before this test but maybe that wasn’t the point. It’s what I learned afterwards that was important. It’s not an easy task at all to accept that all situations are sent by Hashem to test and bring us close to Him but in truth we only ever need to make a sincere effort and Hashem will meet us more than half way.

It took quite a while but the pain has gone and the event has become a more distant memory; since that time HaShem has tested me in other ways and, with the emuna I gained through this ordeal, Hashem has opened up personal paths for me to travel along, which I would never have thought possible. 

Now when I say the prayer before retiring in which we have to forgive people who antagonised us, the person’s face, which always used to loom large, has largely faded and when, on occasion, their face does appear, it is with a feeling of appreciation to HaShem for having given me this challenge and opportunity. Oh, and by the way, I have forgiven now … in my heart.

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  1 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  very moving
yehudit9/5/2011 2:27:42 PM

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