“One shall not exact revenge or bear a grudge” (Vayikra 19:18).
“Bear in mind that life is short, and that with every passing day you are nearer to the end of your life. Therefore, how can you waste your time on petty quarrels and discords? Restrain your anger, hold your temper in check, and enjoy peace with everyone.” (Rebbe Nachman of Breslov)
Last week, our congregation was honored to host Ruth Steinfeld, who told us her painful story of being a hidden child during the Holocaust. Ruth ended her presentation by talking about how she came to forgiveness, admittedly unusual among Holocaust survivors. Ruth emphasized that holding on to anger and resentment did her harm – physically, emotionally and spiritually.
After hearing this gentle woman speak, who could not look at those people in each of our lives who have caused us pain and to whom we are holding onto anger and resentment? For many of us, some of these experiences happened years ago and yet we cannot let go. Don’t wait for Yom Kippur; now is the time, as Rebbe Nachman said, to “enjoy peace with everyone.”
The mitzvah of the week is for each of us to spend some private time thinking about those who are recipients of our anger. If there is someone who needs to be forgiven, do so. If there is someone who you need to make peace with, there is no better time than now.
May you experience a week of peacemaking and a Shabbat of peace,
Rabbi Debbie Israel