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Where Do You Want Your Energy To Go?

09/02/2021 03:22:38 PM


As we continue our journey through Elul I want to focus on those who have wronged us and the internal stress they may cause on our minds.  One day I was complaining to my father about some slight or wrong someone had perpetrated against me long ago. 

My dad asked me, “How much rent is so and so paying?”

Confused, I asked him, “What do you mean?”

He replied, “For someone not paying rent you are allowing so and so to take up a lot of real estate in your mind.” 

Processing our emotions is important.  But after awhile the benefits of processing begin to diminish when all that is left is a toxic memory. When we have been hurt, it is easy for the toxicity of those hurt feelings to permeate our souls, clouding us so much that it makes it difficult to realize how much energy is being diverted by those hurt feelings. 

In an article on forgiveness, Rabbi David Wolpe quoting a clinician by the name of Dr. Richard Balkin (for his book “Practicing Forgiveness” go here) says,

“…perhaps you do not wish to reenter the relationship, or perhaps you know that what you want from the other person will never be. At the same time, however, you do not want to feel the gnawing bitterness that causes you more harm than the person who has hurt you. Here Balkin offers two plausible scenarios. First, he writes, “realizing you will not get what you wanted from a person is one thing, but resolving not to feel ill will toward an individual requires additional work. One way to address your feelings might be to acknowledge what the offender might be experiencing.” Sometimes recognizing that the other person is carrying a burden of guilt makes it easier to let go. Still, the exact opposite may be the case as well: ‘On the other hand, an offender may feel nothing at all because this person is no longer present in the life of the victim or because the offender is uncaring. In this situation, the victim is not going to get what he wanted anyway, so holding on to a debt is meaningless and a waste of energy.’

The Medieval scholar Eleazar ben Judah wrote that “the most beautiful thing a man can do is to forgive.” Balkin puts it differently: “As a clinician, I see my clients as heroes. The willingness to address problems head-on and commit to making a change is a heroic journey.” Link

Forgiveness is complex and requires complex responses.  We are also not expected to be perfect or to perfectly reconcile all the wrongs we have done and done to others in a month.  Remember the words of Rabbi Tarfon as they apply to the work of soul repair:  “You are not required to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it”.

Sat, December 4 2021 30 Kislev 5782