03 Sep We forgive, but do we forget?
We forgive, but do we forget?
All of our relationships have baggage. Emotional baggage is like balls we stuff into a closet: once we open the door, all the balls come pouring out into the room and are awfully hard to put back. Our spouse hurts our feelings, and we remember the hundred times they have hurt us before; our child ignores us, and remember the thousand times they have ignored us before. It is hard to stuff a thousand balls back into the closet.
The Talmud teaches us that once someone apologizes three times, we are obligated to forgive them. This is true only if they have done teshuvah: if they have actually stopped the hurtful behavior, and if they have been in a similar situation and not repeated the pattern. We are all too familiar with the model of the abuser, who comes back with flowers to convince his victim how he really has changed. Flowers are not meaningful change.
The challenge is, what if someone has apologized earnestly and are trying to change, but haven’t completely changed? Halachically, they haven’t done teshuvah, and we are not obligated to forgive them. But if we don’t, of if we “forgive but don’t forget” (which isn’t really forgiving), we walk around stuffing those balls into the closet, one by one; the closet becomes filled to the ceiling, threatening to drown us when we open the door.
The truth is, real teshuvah takes a long time. Remembering to pick the towel off the bathroom floor may be an easy behavior to change. But becoming kinder, more patient, more positive, are much longer term processes. And in the meanwhile, we must live with, and forgive, people who are imperfect.
May you have a meaningful Yom Kippur, one where you offer forgiveness to others, and engage in deep personal change.
I am so grateful to the community for supporting Kol HaLev this past year: so many of you have volunteered, showed up, contributed, and encouraged. Although the COVID pandemic set us back significantly in terms of our Shabbat and Holiday gatherings, it was also an opportunity for focusing on other offerings. When I look at the past year, there are so many successes to celebrate:
- We established a board and received 501c3 recognition
- We established an internet presence including a website, Facebook page & groups, Twitter, and Instagram
- We held musical Kabbalat Shabbat services as well as Shabbat services which were creative, joyous and meaningful, and which involved both young families and older participants, in a truly welcoming intergenerational vibe
- We created a school, now in its 2nd year, that provides a la carte Jewish classes which are Compelling, Convenient, and Creative.
- We established an individualized Bar/Bat Mitzvah program which celebrates the strengths and passions of each student.
Through these pieces, we are getting closer to realizing our larger vision of creating meaningful Jewish prayer, education, and community in Palm Beach County. We are building a synagogue where Jewish prayer is joyous and meaningful, where education inspires a lifetime of Jewish learning and involvement, where people can experience loving community.
As you consider your Yom Kippur yizkor donations, please consider Kol HaLev as a recipient (perhaps through our current facebook fundraiser), or even consider becoming a “Builder,” committing to building Kol HaLev through a monthly donation.
Although Kol HaLev is not holding Yom Kippur services, you are invited to join me at Congregation Gan Eden (congregationganeden.org).
Sukkot—we are inviting everyone to visit our Sukkah, shake the lulav, and have a treat, on October 4th. Please contact me to reserve a 15-minute slot between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., during which you will visit the Sukkah; during that time, you will have the sukkah to yourself (I will be outside) to enjoy.
Next Kabbalat Shabbat is October 23. The link for the zoom room is now on the website home page (go to https://kolhalevpbc.org and scroll the to button that says “virtual shul – Enter Here”)
G’mar Hatimah Tovah, may you be sealed in the book of happy, healthy life.