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The Forgiveness Journey

 For a 2 minute audio click here 

The Forgiveness Journey

In my previous post I described how by seeing forgiveness multi dimensionally, it allows for one to work on their feelings to be more ready to forgive.

I described how forgiveness is about restoring a relationship, being a spectrum and a process, and most importantly as being a possible exercise.

Allow me to elaborate.

1) Restoring a Relationship
The Hebrew word for forgiveness is Mechilah.  From the most basic perspective, mechilah means “I care enough about offender that I wish them no harm”.

Mechilah is not saying “I need to move on” or “it’s time to forget.”  That’s not forgiveness.   Those are reasons for forgiveness, but not the exercise of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a conscious decision to transform very negative feelings – negative enough that one might want the offender to suffer – to more positive feelings, at least to the extent that I desire the offender suffer no harm

2) Forgiveness is a Spectrum
Mechilah is not a one size fits all implementation. At one extreme there is no reconciliation.  Just no harm wished to offender. On other extreme, there is a wholehearted restoration of a relationship. It depends on the person.  It depends on the nature of the offense.

3) Forgiveness is a Process
The journey of forgiveness can mean that today I forgive on a most basic level and tomorrow I proceed further.  A wound heals slowly.  Take it gradually.  Each achievement within forgiveness opens new possibilities.

4) Forgiveness is Possible
Mechilah does not require you to become best friends over night, but ultimately the mechilah process is achievable.

The Forgiveness Spectrum

 For an under 2 minute audio click here 

In my previous post I wrote how forgiveness is a gift one gives to themselves, and the process of forgiveness drives away depression, stress and anger.  With forgiveness comes healing and self-confidence.  Our mental wellbeing requires that we practice the art of forgiveness.

But if one is hurt, how can they forgo their feelings to feel differently?  They may have been hurt in body, mind or heart. What if one is never ready or interested in forgiving? 

To answer this, we need a deeper understanding of forgiveness.

“There are multiple levels of forgiveness.  Among them:

1. The victim forgives in the sense that the victim desires that the offender should not suffer Divine punishment.  The victim might still harbour animosity toward the offender, but it has been mitigated to the extent that the victim desires that no harm befall the offender.

2. One forgives to the degree that one harbors no animosity toward the offender.  Moreover, the victim desires good for the offender.  Yet, the relationship between the two parties is not as it was before the offense.

3. The victim is completely appeased and therefore forgives wholeheartedly.  The relationship between offender and victim is exactly as it was before the offense.”

- The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Forgiveness is about restoring a relationship.  Forgiveness is a spectrum.  Forgiveness is a process.  Forgiveness is possible.

The Gift of Forgiveness

 For an under 2 minute audio click here

Many see forgiveness as a favour generously granted by an injured party to one who caused hurt or harm.

Fred Luskin, author of Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness, argues based on extensive research, that forgiveness is a gift that you give to yourself.

More than the offending party deserves forgiveness, you deserve to forgive.

The process of forgiveness is not a luxury, but a necessary experience that drives away depression, stress and anger that resulted from that specific negative experience.

As important as it is to remember, it is just as important to be able to forget.

Our lives are often cluttered with all kinds of destructive memories and resentments. And if our memories ‘archive’ every time someone slights us, life becomes unbearable.

With forgiveness comes healing and self-confidence.  Our mental wellbeing requires that we practice the art of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not a weakness.  Forgiveness is not denying or lessening the wrong that was done to us.  Rather, forgiveness is an effective process of self-empowerment that allows us to overcome the sense of helplessness that resulted from a negative experience.  It is letting go of some of the pain, and moving on to a better place.

In the words of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks “Forgiveness is the only way to live with the past without being held prisoner by the past”

Positive Jewish Parenting

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Just as parents are obligated to raise children who will become emotionally, morally and practically self-sufficient adults, Jewish parents have an added responsibility to raise children who are Jewishly self-sufficient.

G-d entrusted us with Jewish children.  The education they receive needs to nurture their unique Jewish individuality and soul.

The Jewishness of our children is central to their identity.  When we help them realise this special potential, we give them the greatest possible gift, the gift of being themselves. 

We need to give our children Judaism in a form that allows them to own it, one that encourages and enables them to become independently Jewish and proud practicing Jews.

But how do we accomplish this difficult feat? 

Our relationship with Judaism, studying Torah and keeping the Mitzvot certainly comes with challenges, and at the same time it is the greatest blessing.  Calling it the greatest blessing, is not being in denial, it’s about our choice of focus.

This choice is fateful, for it will have a tremendous impact on our children.  The way we view our Jewishness, is key to how (and whether) our children will embrace it.

Essential for Jewish continuity is a positive attitude about Judaism.  The ingredient that helps ensure that our children become self-sufficient Jewish adults is a healthy dose of Jewish pride and viewing Judaism, the Torah and Mitzvot, as the greatest possible gift.

“Many Jews believe that what unites us as a people today are memories of the Holocaust and fears of antisemitism.  The Rebbe taught the opposite message. What unites us is not that other people hate us, but that G-d loves us; that every one of us is a fragment of the Divine presence and together we are the physical presence of G-d on earth.  This message – spiritual, mystical as it is – is more powerful, noble and caring than the alternative.”
-Paraphrased from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, phD

In our daily morning prayers we declare “Fortunate are we! How good is our portion, how pleasant is our lot and how beautiful our heritage.”

It’s time we impart that message to our children 

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