Avraham Tzvi Schwartz

“As I walked down the street, a huge blow fell on my shoulders. The pain was terrible. I swung around in fury. “Who hit me?” I shouted. What I saw shut me up – it was my own loving father…”[1]

There are two parts to forgiving others. The first is more important – this is to forgive within our hearts. In order to move forward in life – to be happy, to succeed – we must remove – we must cut out, our anger, resentment. We dare not allow this tumor to swell. It might just kill us.

It’s hard to overlook the pain others inflict on us. We suffered, and the suffering leaves a scar. Still, we have to forgive; we have to forget. This is the Torah’s command.[2]

We must remember – we must repeat to ourselves – that all our suffering starts with Hashem. The Divine Presence may afflict us – to show us, teach us, that we acted incorrectly, that we need to make repairs. Or, He may want us to pass a certain test – that we may grow as we need to grow – that we may develop as we need to develop. Still, no matter the reason, only Hashem hits us.

When a man beats his dog, he uses a stick. After the man has gone, the dog may attack the stick – bite the stick. But the stick didn’t hurt him!

We must remember – we must repeat to ourselves – that any suffering we suffer starts with Hashem. Then it becomes easy to forgive the one who was but a stick. Then it’s easy to forget even which stick it was. After all, it’s only a stick.

… and Make Friends

Part Two of forgiving is to restore our relationship with the one who hurt us. This requirement may not always apply, but if we have contact with this person, we must look to repair it. We should even try to improve it.

It’s hard to forget the hurt, the pain. But we can go through the actions. We can fake our politeness. We can pretend our friendship – until, with repeated giving, repeated generosity – we conquer our hate, close the gap and end the rivalry between the dog and the stick.


[1] The Klausenberger Rebbi, a Holocaust survivor -- to explain how he was able to regain his calmness, just minutes after hearing the agonizing news that he had lost his son.

[2] VaYikra 19.18

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