April 6, 2015, Israel
אַדְּרַבָּה, תֵּן בְּלִבֵּנוּ שֶׁנִּרְאֶה כָּל אֶחָד מַעֲלַת חֲבֵרֵינוּ וְלא חֶסְרונָם, וְשֶׁנְּדַבֵּר כָּל אֶחָד אֶת חֲבֵרו בַּדֶּרֶךְ הַיָּשָׁר וְהָרָצוּי לְפָנֶיךָ, וְאַל יַעֲלֶה שׁוּם שנְאָה מֵאֶחָד עַל חֲבֵרו חָלִילָה וּתְחַזֵּק הִתְקַשְּׁרוּתֵנוּ בְּאַהֲבָה אֵלֶיךָ, כַּאֲשֶׁר גָּלוּי וְיָדוּעַ לְפָנֶיךָ. שֶׁיְּהֵא הַכּל נַחַת רוּחַ אֵלֶיךָ
I have been told I am a very forgiving person. I also have been told I am a control freak. Both may be true.
I remember when my friend Myron told me "Moshe, you know you are a control freak". I honestly had no idea.
Of course I need to be in control of my life. I need to have my plans in order. I cannot leave seminars and travel plans to chance or the neglect of others. But these days, not to worry, I have the control freak issue totally under control. I have learned to control the control freak syndrome.
And I remember the day I was told that I was a very forgiving person. I had not realized this either and needed a long explanation and several examples to be convinced.
Simply put I understand that we all get angry. We all make mistakes, we are quick to judge and then we regret our words and we feel deeply ashamed.
This happens but it need not be a death sentence. It need not mean the end of a friendship, a marriage or a business relationship. We must learn to forgive, for if we do not - we shall never be able to forgive ourselves. We will cause ourselves tremendous losses.
I think this concept was captured best by the "Noam Elimelech" as he is known to most of us. Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk. Or Rabbi Elimelech Weisblum of the town of Lizhensk in Poland (at the time the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth). Leżajsk.
He was also the brother of the famed Reb Zusha of whom so many stories are told. Rabbi Elimelech lived from 1717 to 1787. His grave survived the Dark Years of Destruction and today Jews from around the world visit there.
In the paragraph above, in Hebrew, he says words that touched by heart and deeply affected me.
"All the more so, place it in our hearts that we should see the plus, the positive attributes of our friends and not their shortcomings. And we should speak one to another in the way that is most pleasing to him, and heaven forbid to let any hatred from one to his friend...strengthen our connection with You God."
To forgive is simply to understand.
We are hurt, we say things we do not really mean. Let us see the positive attributes of our friends, and this brings us closer to God.
Reb Elimilech, your grave lies in Poland where so many of our people perished and when you ascended to heaven you saw it all, and yet you command forgiveness in this world. For the world cannot exist without forgiveness. Let your love of mankind prevail over the darkness we see today.
No relationship can last without forgiveness. Let us see the positive qualities of our friends. This is how the "Holy Brothers" led their lives, Reb Elimelech and Reb Zusha.
To forgive is to understand. To forgive is to have a future.
We are far too sensitive about our own so called "honor" . We are told be as God, slow to anger and quick to forgive and yet most of us are just the opposite. We are quick to anger, quick to pick up on any slight done to us and too slow to forgive.
Who are we!
What "honor" do we foolishly imagine that we possess?
We have control neither over life or death, illness or health. But we do have the power to forgive.
Let us not be afraid to use it. Let us not fear appearing weak for forgiving those who "dishonored" us.
Our honor, our power, is in our ability to forgive.