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I just got this from someone I know personally over email, and if you have some spare ma’aser money, it could really help to save a life:

I am asking everyone I know to please help my friend, Bob Ackert, a Chabadnik from Maalot who has been coming close to Rav Berland for the last couple years. He is 61 and has a 12 year old daughter. He has been in a coma since June after brain surgery, and the doctors now give him a few weeks to live.

Rav Berland says that with a pidyon of 20,000 shekels, Bob will see a complete recovery. So far, we have raised just over 5000 and are out of ideas of where to turn next.

I am told maaser monies may be used.

If you are able to help at all, please make the donation at https://ravberland.com/pidyon-nefesh/ and say it is for the recovery of Yerachmeil Chai ben Chana.

If you are not able, please remember my friend in your hitbodedut and maybe say some tehillim in his merit. Every bit helps.

Thank you for reading.

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We could all use some extra mitzvahs this time of year…. so let’s practise some achdut, and see if we get together the 15,000 nis Bob needs for his pidyon.

 

The true story behind the persecution of Rabbi Eliezer Berland

Playing time: 4 mins
As part of my efforts to get more buzz around One in a Generation Volume III’ve put together a four minute video which explains the main points of who was behind the persecution of Rabbi Berland, and why the secular press and the State of Israel was so happy to go along with them.
We’re also working on launching a new website just for One in a Generation, so I will keep you posted on the progress. There’s a lot of interesting things going on behind the scenes, and the fall-out from the autistics‘ shocking (at least to me….) announcement will continue for quite some time to come, even though I know it doesn’t look like that at the moment.
There are big, big things happening, and the ‘war’ against truth is about to get ratcheted up a whole other notch. So buckle your seatbelts, keep talking to God about what’s really going on, and remember that speaking lashon hara and stirring machloket are key ‘Erev Rav’ traits that should be a big, red flag that people may not be as ‘pious’ and holy as they are trying to appear.
We live in interesting times. And that’s going to continue for a while.

UPDATE:

A few people couldn’t see the Playbuzz version of this video, so I’ve redone it on Youtube, here:
I’m working on a few more, too. Let me know if something in particular is puzzling you, or that you want me to address. There are answers to all questions.

Yesterday, I was listening to Rav Eliyahu Meirav’s interview with the Israeli media, and I felt very sad. For those who don’t already know, Rav Meirav’s stepson, Yosef Cohen, Hyd, was one of the two Nahal Chareidi soldiers gunned down at Givat Assaf, close to Bet El, last Thursday.

Rav Meirav was raised on the totally secular Shomer Hair Kibbutz of Bet Alfa, and was a fighter pilot in the IDF airforce. He made teshuva after the Yom Kippur war – along with so many others of that generation, who’d seen with their own eyes just how limited the army really was.

Rav Meirav met Rav Berland – and became one of his closest students.

If you read the secular press descriptions of Rav Meirav, you’ll notice that they kept stressing that he was part of the Breslov ‘sect’. That’s their way of using subtle language to keep dissing religious people anyway they can, and to sow division and hatred.

After Rav Meirav’s son was killed al Kiddush Hashem, all those ucky news sites with their agendas to sow hatred and strife between the Jewish people started running false stories about how Yosef had been ‘thrown out of his home’ for joining the army, and how his parents had ‘sat shiva’ for him even before he died.

Because hey, why miss any opportunity to put the boot in to the chareidi community, and especially the Breslov Chassidic ‘sect’?!

This led to the absolutely sickening spectacle of Rav Meirav and his wife having to give interviews to the press – before they’d even buried their son – refuting the lies that had been spread about their family.

I listened to Rav Meirav speak – about Yosef’s last words, about his own background and teshuva, and most of all about the need for us to stop all the awful hatred, and to come together as one people, respecting each other’s differences – and it really made me pause for thought.

The haters out there are on all sides of the equation.

They work for Ha’aretz, they live in Tel Aviv, they hate any hint of yiddishkeit, and they use the media to paint awful pictures of frum Jews as ‘blood-sucking, medieval parasites’ at any opportunity. But that’s not the only place you’ll find them.

You’ll also find plenty of apparently ‘frum’ haters out there too.

‘Frum’ haters pour scorn on the Jews who don’t live in Israel and wait for big comets to smash into America and kill everyone. They hate people who want to convert to yiddishkeit, they hate people who don’t conform, they hate people who aren’t ‘frum’, or who aren’t ‘frum’ enough, or who are too ‘frum’, or not the right sort of ‘frum’.

‘Frum’ haters also hate people who don’t vaccinate….and they hate people who do vaccinate. They hate people who voted for Trump, they hate people who don’t think exactly like them, and see the world exactly the way they do.

Every bit of the Jewish world is riddled with this disease of hating other Jews – including our bit.

And there is no segment of society that is doing better at loving our fellow Jews than any other.

We all have the problem and we all need to work on it.

One of the things that drew me to Breslov, and drew me to Rabbenu, is that in Rabbenu’s tent, everyone is welcome. When you go to Uman, you stop seeing people as ‘frum’ and ‘not frum’, or as part of your group or not part of your group.

You just see them as individuals, as Jews.

And some of those Jews are really nice, and really deep and really holy – however they may look externally. And some of those Jews are really not so easy to get on with, and have a number of obvious bad middot and issues – however they may look externally.

The yetzer works overtime to convince us that ‘our bit’ of the Jewish world is fine, the best, the shining example for the rest of Jewish society, while all the other bits are the ones with the problem.

But it’s not true! Not at all!

The problem comes down to this:

There are Jewish people who look for reasons to hate other Jews, and there are Jewish people who look for reasons to try to love them.

And both groups are scattered and embedded across all the different segments of Jewish society.

Sadly, our world being the morally-degenerate mess it currently is, it seems the people who hate the most are also the ones with the biggest mouths, and the biggest audiences, and the biggest following on Youtube.

The haters pop-up all over the place, to have a go at others, and to put the boot in, and to harp on about how great they are, and how great their group is – always at the expense of others.

I’ve had to learn the hard way, that this is not at all what God wants from us.

I’ve also had ‘hating’ tendencies that I’ve had to really work on, and to try to uproot, over the last few years. That process of teshuva taught me that the haters ‘hate’ because they actually don’t like themselves very much at all. And that they’re secretly jealous of other people, and it’s the envy that causes them to diss the other Jew, the other group, so loudly, so poisonously, so arrogantly.

Whatever the hater is criticizing so much in others, that ‘thing’ is somehow embedded in their own souls.

So, I listened to Rav Meirav talk, and I wondered ‘how can I do more, to get from hate to love’? How can I do more, to make my house a ‘no-tolerance for sinat chinam’ zone?

I’m going to pray on it, and I’ll let you know what I come up with.

Because one thing is for sure:

Nothing is slowing up Moshiach more, or causing us more problems and heartache in our own lives, than hating other Jews.

Over the last decade, I’ve been to a ton of kevarim, or graves of holy people, all over the place.

I’ve visited the patriarchs and matriarchs in Hevron; the tomb of King David in the Old City, the Rashbi, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, up in Meron; the Ari and Rabbi Yosef Karo in Tsfat; the grave of Rachel Imenu, near Bethlehem – and all the Ukraine lot besides, including Rebbe Nachman, the Berditchever and the Baal Shem Tov.

But there’s one grave that’s stood out as a ‘must visit’ – and because it’s in the middle of a heavily populated Palestinian town with pronounced terrorist tendencies, getting to it has been pretty tricky, the last 10 years.

Yosef’s tomb is in Shechem, and you can only get to it if you go as part of a midnight convoy on armoured buses, with the whole trip coordinated with the Israeli army.

Long story short, until last Sunday, I’d never been able to organize everything to go. But a couple of days’ earlier, someone told me about a trip that was leaving on Rosh Chodesh Shvat, and even sent me an email with all the details.

I called them up Sunday morning – still only half interested, if I’m honest, as I like my sleep and Shechem is a 2 hour shlep by bus from Jerusalem – and there was a place free. So I decided to go.

I get to the bus stop in Jerusalem, and the first person I see there is a former room-mate from Uman, who starts telling me the most amazing, miraculously-hair-raising true stories of sons who recovered from terminal illnesses after doing a pidyon nefesh with Rav Berland; and people who dropped dead the day after they finished translating a particular Breslev book into English; and miraculous moving-apartments-with-no-money stories.

I took a breath of cold air, and I could smell Rabbenu all around me – it was that same heady mix of uncertainty, kedusha and surrealism that so often comes with me to Uman, when I’m going to visit Rebbe Nachman.

You start feeling like ‘anything can happen’, and it can be quite unnerving, if still exhilarating at times.

The bus showed up – and it was an old bullet-proof clunker with double windows so thick and scratched, you couldn’t see out of them at all. It was like being blind-folded and led off down an alley. I tried to fall asleep, and I mostly managed.

I woke up a few minutes before the convoy drove into Shechem (at least, that’s what I guessed, because I couldn’t see a thing through the window) and then the bus pulled over to the side of the road, and we got the order to move out. I stepped out of the bus, and into Arab Nablus at 2am.

It was a cold, clear night, and you could see Yosef’s tomb 50 metres ahead – surrounded by a whole bunch of army APVs and soldiers in all sorts of combat gear, many of whom were holding really big guns.

How cool! I thought. Then: How weird, to be visiting a kever at 2am with half a platoon of the IDF and a whole, very mixed, crowd of people from across Israel.

There were families with small kids, teens, chareidim, hill-top youth with huge payot, sem girls, Chassidic matrons from Monsey, yeshiva students from London, wives, grannies and everything in between, besides.

I tried to grab two minutes by the kever, before it turned into a tin of sardines, and then I spent the rest of my short time there standing outside the building, trying to take it all in. You could see dark Nablus towering up the slopes all around the tomb, and I thought this must look pretty impressive in the day time. (Maybe one day I’ll find out…)

I tried to do some personal prayer, but the truth is that between the trip, the tiredness and the surreal situation, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and speechless.

So I watched, and this is what I saw: secular soldiers and chareidi men laughingly posing for pictures together; hundreds of people playing musical instruments and loudly celebrating Rosh Chodesh; ‘hill top yoof’ digging up the ground near the tomb and putting up a big blue tent (I still have no idea what all that was about, but it looked distinctly naughty; two teenage girls sat on the floor wrapped in the same blanket, reciting tehillim.

And the last thing I saw, just before I left, was a couple of teenage boys lugging a six pack of coke bottles around with them. At least, that’s how it looked from a distance, until I noticed a whole bunch of tubes were sticking out of the coke box, and were attached to one of the boys. The boy looked really ill – he had that ethereal, angelic quality that a person can get when they’re physically very frail. His friend had ‘disguised’ his respirator, or whatever it was, in a coke box, so his friend wouldn’t feel embarrassed while visiting the tomb.

That sight brought tears to my ears, and I said to God: Who is like your people, Av haRachamam?

There’s me complaining about making this grueling trip in the middle of the night, but look at all the old people, and small kids, and sick teens that have showed up here today, just to celebrate with Yosef HaTzadik. Unbelievable.

A little while later, we were back on the bus, and heading back to Jerusalem. As kever trips go, it was pretty uneventful in some ways – I had no big flashes of inspiration, no massive insights, no answers to big questions. What I did have, though, was a renewed appreciation for my fellow Jews.

Who is like your people, Am Yisrael?

Will I go back? Maybe. Not soon. It took me a day to recover and I’m still a little ‘out of it’ now. But one thing I can tell you for sure: Yosef’s tomb reminded me a lot of Rebbe Nachman’s. It was the same energy, the same intensity, the same holy madness. So something tells me that sooner or later, I will be going back.

I’m writing this post for all the laydeez out there who struggle to know if they’re really doing what they should be.

Yes, they spend all day doing mitzvahs for their kids and husbands – cooking, cleaning, caring, shopping, washing, cleaning some more – but there’s maybe a nagging sense that all these chores are maybe, well, not the most spiritually-awesome endeavor ever known to man.

But that’s where you’re wrong.

Do you want to know what I did this last week that I’m convinced is bringing Moshiach the sweet way? It’s not the hours of hitbodedut, the charity I gave, even the supper I cooked for my kids.

What it was is when I agreed to take my neighbours’ kids to school.

I don’t like this neighbor: their Arab builder blocked our joint pipe (see this post for a reminder) and we ended up having to pay to clean it all up because they refused to accept that we hadn’t shoved 4 packets of wipees down the toilet in one go….

Since then, I’ve been eying these neighbors up with disdain (no-one said I was perfect, and occasionally I like to prove it). But when it all went bonkers in Jerusalem a few weeks’ back, the mother approached me and asked me if I would mind driving her kids into the Old City, when I took my own kids to school.

Let me repeat: I don’t like these neighbours.

And that’s when I got that Hashem was giving me a HUGE mitzvah to do. So I said yes. And I’ve been driving them for the last 3 weeks now, and it’s looking like it’s turning into a semi-permanent arrangement. Horrors!

Except it isn’t, because I know that these small things that you and I are doing are actually bringing Moshiach.

Spiritual heroics aren’t found in big speeches, blog posts or even, books. They’re found in these small, apparently mundane acts that change the whole world, quietly.

Today, the neighbor I don’t like came and thanked me. We exchanged words and I almost nearly liked her.

A bit.

I realized after I closed the door that ahavat yisrael doesn’t always mean that you go round openly loving everyone.

Maybe sometimes, it just means that you appreciate other people’s humanity and frailties a little bit more, and you agree to take their kids just because you wouldn’t want your own kids walking through the Arab shuk at the moment.

So anyway, I want to give you, dear readers, the chance to share a little bit of what you’re doing to bring Moshiach the sweet way in the comments section. Don’t be shy, and feel free to comment anonymously. Sometimes, we all need the encouragement of a small pat on the back, or some external recognition that NOT screaming at our kids was huge; or making our husband’s another cup of tea was huge, or giving someone we don’t like a fake smile and a wave hello was huge.

So tell me what you did today to bring Moshiach.  For sure there’s a lot you could say.

Between davening mincha and ma’ariv in shul, my husband overhead the following story:

One of the men in shul was telling his friend how he’d been in the supermarket, when he accidentally bumped into another trolley. He hadn’t been concentrating (you’ll see why in a minute) – and during his daydreaming, he’d accidentally gone into the back of the person who’d stopped in front of him.

His fellow shopper went ballistic and started yelling and cursing at him loudly at the top of his voice, causing him no end of embarrassment as everyone else in the shop gathered round to see what was going on.

All the man had in his trolley was a loaf of bread, and the man he’d bumped into started screaming at him that he didn’t even need a trolley, if all he could afford to put in it was a loaf of bread!!!

At this point, the first man broke down a little, and stiffly explained that he didn’t have a lot of money to put a lot of other things in his trolley….

At that point, something softened in the other shopper, and he started apologizing for all the nasty things he’d just said, and all the criticism he’d heaped on his head. The first man accepted his apology, but still looked pretty down and broken-hearted.

The second shopper now had a complete change of heart and decided to make some real teshuva.

He told the first man that he was going to fill up his trolley and pay for it all, to say sorry for abusing him in public and drawing attention to the fact that he didn’t have a lot of money. He literally dragged the first shopper round the supermarket, piling as many things as he could into the trolley.

Good as his word, he paid the whole bill when it came to more than 800nis (around $230) patted the first shopper on the back, and then carried on with his own grocery run. A little later, the second man came out of the supermarket and spotted the first shopper sitting down on a bench, crying.

He came over to him and asked him: ‘Why are you crying? I made it up to you now, didn’t I?’ The first shopper nodded, and explained what was going on:

‘A little while ago, my wife told me we had no food in the house,’ he said. ‘All I had in my pocket was 10 nis (around $2.50), but I told my wife that I would got to the supermarket in any case, and that Hashem would help me.

And He did.’

Why self-forgiveness is the key

So, this is what my correspondent from the last post replied:

“I knew you were going to say to apologize to my children.  And I know I need to do this.  But emotionally I can’t do it.  It will hurt me too much to bring up past experiences.  I don’t think I have the emotional strength to apologize to them, on my own.

“I know I need to nullify my own busha if I want to get peace with this, and the yetzer hara is having a field day with me.  For now, I will ask H-Shem for the strength to eventually do this, and ask H-Shem to allow my tefillot and teshuvot to be accepted, even though this situation with my children is hanging over me, especially since it is Elul.“

 

One brave lady

My correspondent is one brave lady, because if you asked any single one of us if we’d be happy to say sorry to our kids – particularly the kids we KNOW we haven’t done a great job of parenting, and who have suffered a great deal as a result – I guarantee that none of us would be running over eagerly to get the whole apology party on the road.

As we mentioned in previous posts, saying sorry is really, really hard. And it’s harder still when we know we really screwed up; and it’s harder still when we don’t even know if our apology is going to be accepted, or if it’s even going to ‘fix’ things they way we hope.

So then, what options are really left open to us, if we’re somehow stuck knowing we need to say sorry, but unable to do it?

You know what I’m going to say next, don’t you?

At that point, there is no other option on the table except to get God involved. And that’s exactly what my correspondent did. Here’s what she told me:

Get God involved, and see miracles

“I wanted to let you know the most amazing miracles happened to me today.

“I was in the middle of my Hitbodedut, when I started thinking that the same way that my children’s situation, which is painful for me as a mother, is getting me closer to H-Shem, the situation is also there to get them closer to H-Shem, too.

“Don’t get me wrong I’m not excusing myself for how I treated them strictly and harshly. But I’m starting to understand that, for whatever reason, I was the messenger for their test – but the tribulations they had to had, and it was much better that it came via me, who really does love them, then via some other route.

“This idea gave me permission to forgive myself, and took a huge load off my shoulders, I physically felt lighter, and more at peace with myself. Everything comes from H-Shem, and everything H-Shem does is good and for our own good.

‘I know that I still need to apologize to them, but H-Shem will give me the strength to do so, at the right time.

 “Later on, I was talking to my daughter when all of a sudden she started thanking me, telling me what a great mom I was to her growing up.  I tried to apologize to her, but she said that there’s nothing to apologize for.  My husband was also there, and tried to say  that we’d all made mistakes during those hard times, but she shushed him, and said ‘:lets just say I’m sorry to each other and start new.’

 WOW! 

“I’m still in amazing shock.  THANK YOU H-SHEM, 1 MILLION TIMES OVER!  If you think this story will bring chizuk to others, please publicize this amazing miracle.”

 Her story certainly gave ME a lot of chizuk, so I was more than happy to share it further afield.

In the next post, we’re going to pull all this stuff together into a practical ‘Elul Forgiveness Exercise’ that will hopefully help you to kick-start your teshuva process.

Learning the lessons of forgiveness

 

There are so many things we could learn about true forgiveness from the last few posts, and I’m sure that each of us will have our own insights. When I was trying to pull it together into a coherent ‘strategy of forgiveness’, the following elements jumped out at me:

In order to really forgive, and in order to really apologise, we need the following things:

  • Honesty

Namely, to admit that we genuinely have done things wrong, and that we aren’t perfect, even when that’s very painful.

  • Remorse

To feel bad about our negative actions, and the consequences they had for the people in our lives, and to want to avoid repeating the same mistakes again in the future.

  • Hitbodedut

Talking to God about what we actually need to do, in order to fix the mess we made,  as well as asking Him to give us the enormous emotional and spiritual strength required in order for us to own up to our faults.

  • Emuna – ie, Ein Od Milvado, God set the whole situation up, and He had His reasons for doing that

This is where we start to see that we’re not in control of our lives, and that often, we kind of get stuck playing a part that we don’t want or like. It also means that we see that the OTHER people in our life, who may have hurt us, are also just God’s ‘puppets’, in a manner of speaking, and just coming to teach us some sort of lesson, or to right some sort of spiritual wrong that may not even be from this lifetime (just like what happened in the Baal Shem Tov story).

  • Self-forgiveness

All of these things are key, and all of them are part of the secret of true forgiveness. But if I had to pick one thing out of this list to emphasise, then self-forgiveness would be it.

Because:

If we can’t forgive ourselves, we also can’t sincerely forgive others. And if we can’t forgive ourselves, we won’t have the emotional strength required to fix what we broke, and to ask others for forgiveness.

The Elul Forgiveness Exercise 

OK, let’s see if we turn everything we’ve learned into something practical that will directly help US to practise more forgiveness in our own lives. Ready?

Take a piece of paper and a pen.

Answer the following questions (these aren’t for sharing, so go ahead and be honest):

  • Who do you still need to forgive?
  • What do you still need to forgive yourself about?
  • Who do you need to ask forgiveness from? (Clue: kids and spouses nearly always make it onto this list)
  • What’s stopping you from doing it?

If you get stuck answering any of these questions, schedule in some quiet time and ask God for some help and guidance.

Kick-starting the forgiveness process

Remember, God treats us the way we treat others, midda kneged midda. So let’s kick-start the forgiveness process right now. Turn your piece of paper of, and write the following statement:

“I, NAME, unconditionally forgive anyone who has ever hurt me or upset me, under any circumstances, at any time.”

You can add anything you want to this statement, and yes, it’s very similar to what we say before we go to sleep. But a few months’ ago, my rabbi Rav Arush gave a shiur where he stressed the importance of actually writing this statement down, and signing it.

Actions carry a lot of weight in yiddishkeit, so please sign it and then breathe out!

You just forgave a whole bunch of people unconditionally, (or at least, took the first massive step towards doing that) – and for sure, God will return the favour, come Rosh Hashana.

While we’re on the subject of forgiveness, I just wanted to ask you, my readers to please forgive me for anything I’ve written over the past 12 months that may have touched a nerve, or upset you in any way.  That is never my intention, but I do make mistakes and I sometimes misjudge things. So please forgive me!!

And may we all be blessed with the most amazingly sweet, forgiving, kind and delicious year possible, Amen.

Learning how to forgive: The famous story from the Baal Shem Tov

One of the Baal Shem Tov’s students once asked him the seminal question: ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’ In response, the Baal Shem Tov sent him to a well in a nearby forest, and told him to go and climb a tree there, and keep his eyes peeled.

The student was a little confused, but hey, it’s the Baal Shem Tov! And he knew that his holy teacher certainly had good reasons for giving him these strange instructions. The student got there, climbed the tree, and waited.

The first person came along, stopped at the well, took a big shluck of water, then walked off – but the student saw that he’d left his fat purse of money behind him, at the well.

Next, a young lad came along, saw the purse full of money, and happily took it away with him.

The last person came along, stopped at the well for a drink – and got beaten up by the first person who’d discovered his lost purse, and had come back to claim it. When he couldn’t find it, he was convinced the last person there had stolen it, and started raining punches down on him, so that he’d confess where he’d hidden it.

When all this was over, the bemused student climbed down the tree, and came back to the BESHT for an explanation.

The Baal Shem Tov told him:

“In a previous life, the first person who lost the purse was a litigant in a trial where he should have lost and been liable to pay a lot of money – except that he bribed the judge to decide in his favour.

The second person who found the purse was the other litigant, who was dishonestly swindled out of his money. Now, the account was settled.

And the third person who got beaten up, was the bent judge.”

 

The secret of forgiveness

It’s a simple story, but it teaches us a profound lesson about we can start to forgive, namely:

God did, does and will do everything in the world. EinOdMilvado. Hashem is all there is.

That’s the first of the Rambam’s 13 Principles of Faith, and it’s a fundamental tenet of Judaism.

But how does knowing that God is doing everything in the world, which you can sum up in the phrase: ‘having emuna’ going to help us to ask for forgiveness, and to forgive others? Let’s find out.

Let’s start by seeing how this idea changes the whole picture when we need to ask for forgiveness.

 

Asking our kids for forgiveness

A little while back, I got an email from a lady who was having some ongoing, chronic health issues that no medicine or antibiotics could touch with a barge pole. My correspondent started talking to God about her health issues, and BH, they started to improve.

A little later, she sent me a heart-wrenching email asking for advice on how she could make teshuva for messing up her grown-up kids, who were depressed, angry and struggling emotionally and relationship-wise. My correspondent had had a very stormy relationship with her spouse, and there was a lot of anger, yelling and tension in the house, which spilled-over into her parenting. She was blaming herself mercilessly for all her kids’ problems, and didn’t know what to do next.

Before I continue, you should know that the situation my correspondent described is unfolding itself in most homes today, even orthodox Jewish homes. Spiritually and emotionally, Am Yisrael is in a huge mess, and part of the reason I wanted to refer to this particular bit of correspondence is because I know it resonates with that secret part of every parent, every mother, who secretly fears that she’s messing her kids up.

And we probably all really are!

So anyway, the main gist of what I suggested she should try to do to get things moving, forgiveness and teshuva-wise was as follows:

1) Apologise to the children themselves for her parenting shortcomings, and validate their experiences and reactions.

This cannot be overstated,in terms of setting things right with the people we’ve hurt, especially when those people are our children. But it’s so hard to do, I know!

And

2) STOP BEATING HERSELF UP!!

I explained to my respondent that she’d only parented the same way she’d been parented herself, and that I could guarantee it hadn’t been anything like ideal. The key to getting things to move was to practise as much self-compassion as possible.

So what happened next?

You’ll find out in the next post…

Why is it so hard to accept someone else’s apology?

 

OK, in the last post we were thinking about why it’s so hard to apologise. Now let’s switch sides and ask ourselves another question:

Q: When someone asks us to forgive them, why is it often so hard to do it?

I’m not talking about the small ‘nothings’ that most of us find it all too easy to apologise for, like ‘only’ putting out three salads for Shabbat lunch instead of the usual 6, because we’ve had a tough week. Or apologising because it took us a few hours longer to return the other person’s phone call.

I’m talking about the big stuff here.

The horrible comment someone made that devastated us. The completely thoughtless behaviour that ruined our wedding / bris / bar mitzvah. The decision or action that changed the whole course of our life, and caused us a lot of suffering and heartache.

Big stuff.

So now, that person finds out it’s Elul, and that they need to make amends to the people they’ve hurt, and they phone you up to apologise. If you’re like most people, you’re not going to immediately drop your guard and gushingly accept. Sincerely accepting apologies from people who have really hurt us is actually really hard!

Why is this?

Again, each of us will have our own particular reasons, but when I was musing about why it can be so hard to accept apologies, the following things came up:

  • We don’t trust it’s a sincere apology
  • We’re scared if we let our guard down, they might hurt us again
  • We want them to suffer EVEN MORE!! (ie, vengeance)
  • We still have a lot of feelings of hatred against them (not politically correct to say, I know, but true nevertheless)
  • If they person who’s doing the apologising has caused us a huge loss or damage, we can’t forgive them because we’re still blaming them for the horrible situation we still find ourselves in
  • It’s not fair!! Just saying sorry after the terrible thing they did to us is NEVER going to be enough…

Anything else you want to add to this list?

Genuine forgiveness is actually pretty hard

As you’re hopefully starting to see for yourself, sincerely asking for forgiveness when you know you’ve done something bad, and sincerely forgiving someone else who really hurt you in some way, is actually really, really difficult to do in practise.

(SO STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP IF ALL THE FORGIVENESS STUFF IS NOT COMING EASY! IT TAKES 120 YEARS TO PERFECT ALL THESE NEGATIVE MIDDOT!!!)

But Hashem still wants us to do all the ‘forgiveness’ stuff, and He’s particularly keen that we do it in Elul, so that we go into Rosh Hashana, the yom haDin, with as clean a slate as possible.

God relates to us midda kneged midda¸ which means ‘a measure for measure.’

If we forgive others, He’ll forgive us. If we ask forgiveness for others, He’ll forgive us. And this is a deal that has some eternal ramifications for us, because Gehinnom doesn’t atone for sins between man and man; it only takes care of the sins we did – and didn’t make teshuva for – between man and God.

If we stole something and didn’t give it back and ask for forgiveness – we’ll have to come back again to fix it.

If we hurt someone with harsh words and we didn’t sincerely make amends – we’ll get sent back here, and this time it could well be that WE’LL be the ones getting the verbal abuse, as spiritual payback.

If we didn’t somehow fix the fallout from that juicy piece of gossip we shared with 50 of our closest friends on Facebook, then guess what? God is going to send us back to rectify the blemish we caused to our soul.

So forgiveness, as well as being really, really hard, is also really, really crucial for our spiritual rectification process. So how exactly are we meant to do it (especially when the person who’s hurt us the most is still trying to pretend they’re perfect, and didn’t do anything wrong?) Stay tuned…