Monday, October 6, 2014

Forgiving: I'm a little Off

Red leaves on the  trees signal it is  time for Sukkot. But, since I was on vacation between Rosh hashanah and Yom Kippur, I find I'm spiritually a little off. I did throw a galette, a flat rock, into the ocean along with hundreds of Jews from Nice, France for tashlich.  The rabbi who gave a Rosh Hashanah sermon in English, Yiddish and French invited us to join the 1500 Jews of Nice who gather for Tashlich, to throw their sins into the Cote d'Azur regardless of their yearly degree of practice. The police were there too, yet  no one seemed afraid to share such an outward expression of their Jewishness. I wast most afraid for the women wearing high heeled shoes on the rocky beach-no sand, just rocks.

 Now, back on the Amtrak train, I'm pondering the ideas of last week's holy days: Forgiveness. Giving it, not asking for it.

 Asking for is a  lot easier. I even have the simple steps on a refrigerator magnet in my kitchen. 1. Recognize you did a wrong; 2. Say your sorry; 3. Ask for forgiveness; 4. Do an act to repair the wrong; 5. when presented with  the same situation, act differently.

I ask you: What are the steps of giving forgiveness?

I've struggled with this trait-virtue- action of forgiving my whole life. At my more seasoned age, I'm better at it than in my youth. I could hold on to hurt and anger for days, weeks, months and, yes, even years.  Something about being right and the other person being wrong seemed to warrant sustained anger. Being genuinely hurt, and even deeply wounded seemed according to my logic of heart and mind to justify judgment and anger.

My son, the rabbi in training, gave a sermon this year on giving forgiveness.He quoted Mandela: Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting  for it to kill your enemy.  I get it, the anger, the judgment only hurts me. And I know over time I've learned to let go, release, disregard, ignore, and move on.


"What is the difference," I asked two of my sons, "between full throated forgiveness and just moving on?"  They both agreed that you can still feel a hurt, and forgive. You can forgive and remain changed by the experience they said. You can forgive even if the other person hasn't done the steps of teshuva.

"Do you need to understand, the other person's feelings...like in Mussar, do you have to hold their experience?" Do you need to understand your own part and what you are responsible for?"

I'm still pondering and would ask for your insight.
What is full throated forgiveness?
What are the steps? Help me so I can better throw away the stones, not the ones from the beach, but the ones that linger in my heart.