Think Good And Be Good
Forgiveness is something to give to another and it is also something we must do for ourselves. Loving ourselves makes us whole, and when we are whole we have that much more to give to Hashem, to give to our loved ones and friends, and to give back to ourselves. But realizing that we are always whole is a challenge, and that is why Teshuvah is so very important.
It is about returning to the whole spirit, the whole and complete soul we once were, and actually still are, but simply may not realize it. It is far too easy to think we are broken and allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with sadness and feeling incomplete. Recognizing this is an important first step. Things might not be going our way. They may be really bad, in fact. But much of that is in our perception and thoughts. As Rabbi Avi Rabin says: Think good and be good.”To Forgive We Must Actually Never Forget
Forgiveness will be different for everyone. I am sure we all know someone who seems like they are on a higher plane, and can get to a point of forgiveness amazingly fast. That’s not me. Things fester and sit, and while eventually I can get there, it’s not instantly.
Some people can forgive and forget, but is this the right approach? Should we really forget? It is more powerful to understand and communicate the pain and hurt that was caused. To not forget it, but to process it deeply, and to find a way forward. This makes the act of forgiveness that much more powerful.
In Psychology Today, Nancy Colier writes: “It’s a decision to let the past be what it was, to leave it as is, imperfect and not what we wish it had been. Forgiveness means that we stop the shoulda, coulda, woulda been-s and relinquish the idea that we can create a different (better) past.
… Forgiveness also suggests an openness to meeting the present moment freshly. That is, to be with the other person without our feelings about the past in the way of what’s happening now.
… True forgiveness means acknowledging that our suffering matters—to us, the one who’s lived it—whether or not the other person ever agrees with us.
… Forgiveness, ultimately, is about freedom… Forgiveness is ultimately about choosing to offer ourselves love—and with it, freedom.”
Wow. So powerful and important to remember as we move into this Holy period of the year. To Be Free, You Have To Learn To Forgive
The remarkable Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks says the very same thing…
“Have compassion on your works. Forgive. That’s what we say on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and the days between. But it cuts both ways. We can’t ask God to forgive us if we don’t forgive others. We have to forgive those who’ve offended us, however hard it is, because life is too short to feel resentment. Lo tikom velo titor, says the Torah. Don’t bear a grudge and don’t take revenge.”
And when Moses told the Jewish people “don’t despise an Egyptian… He was saying was: if you continue to hate, you will still be slaves: slaves to the past and your resentment. If you want to be free you have to let go of hate.”In The Force Of Forgiveness, Sacks writes about Joseph’s “complete forgiveness for what the brothers had done to him all those years before.”
“And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that G-d sent me ahead of you . . . G-d sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but G-d . . .”
This Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur will be a great challenge for me… to truly forgive myself and move forward, and to truly forgive some others. For some, they will never know that I am forgiving them, for the pain they have caused has forced me to remove them from my life. They will never hear me explain what they did, the hurt and pain they inflicted, and yet I will try to forgive, truly forgive.
In a world where we are chained by addictions, weighed down by clutter, both literal and metaphorical, and enslaved to our thoughts, don’t we all want freedom? True freedom?
So don’t forgive and forget, forgive and be free.