FORGIVENESS IS A TOUGH SELL
by Jack Engelhard (IsraelNationalNews)
Back when I was around 15 years old I was offered a summertime job. This was in Montreal. I would have to present myself for a brief interview, but since a high authority in town had recommended me, the fix was in, it was in the bag. The interview was a formality.
The man behind the big desk began asking questions…strange questions.
“Your father is Polish. Yes?”
“No, my father is Jewish.”
“I understand,” said the man. “But he is a Polish Jew.”
I did not know what that was, and I said so. Polish? Spanish? What’s the difference?
“Polish Jews,” the man persisted, “are known to be Talmudic, no? Bookish, studious.”
True, my father knew the depths of Torah and Talmud – but bookish? He worked 14 hours a day in the leather trade.
“I am sorry,” I said. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“I mean they tend to be lazy.”
“You are very wrong, Mister…”
“Nevertheless, we cannot hire lazy people,” said the man.
That was my first brush with in-your-face anti-Semitism.
After all these years, have I ever forgiven this fellow Jew? Obviously not. Some insults and indignations stick.
Forgiveness is a tough job and a tough sell.
The Chofetz Chaim… refused to forgive a gang of louts after they tormented him, mistaking him for a tramp as he travelled incognito. But we’re approaching the High Holy Days. This is when we are commanded to clean up our act and learn to forgive. As for me, I try, and often I succeed. But just as often I can’t get with the program. I will leave it to our rabbis to define the boundaries of forgiveness. Surely I exceed the limits and am far from being righteous.
The Chofetz Chaim, however, was impeccably righteous, and he refused to forgive a gang of louts after they tormented him, mistaking him for a tramp as he travelled incognito. Later, when they found out who he really was, they begged for forgiveness, but by then it was too late. They would have to find the “tramp” again and he was forever gone.
On average, I’d say we all endure five insults a day, from a wedding invitation that excludes us to a snub at the office. Why coffee for everyone except you? How about that driver who cut you off or that lady who sneaked ahead of you in line or the co-worker who gave you a bad performance review…may he win a million dollars and spend it all on doctors?
We suffer all these snubs and indecencies and even put them out of our minds, but do we forgive?
We give it our best shot, but it doesn’t always work. There’s hurt all around and we “forgive” only to move on with our lives.
It would be impossible to survive as individuals, as a species, if we remembered every slight. But we are not angels. We are not saints. We are human.
The same two men who shake forgiving hands in synagogue – once they get on the road all bets are off.
The manager that ran the radio station where I worked as an editor – I still call him Hitler. The director who stole my idea, I call him no friend, no pal.
A movie producer friend can’t forget (or forgive) the studio boss who invited him to lunch and then stood him up at the elevator when someone “more important” came along. That happened 20 years ago. Is this an exception or a rule? I’m saying it’s a rule and that it all begins at home. Most families are dysfunctional.
Forgiveness is desirable, of course, but does not appear to be a natural human inclination…judging from my own instincts and from observing others.
How about you?
Do you forgive Ariel Sharon for Gush Katif?
We’re taught that our Torah never demands anything beyond our reach. But forgiveness – that is a tough one. That is a stretch.
(EDITOR’s NOTE: The above article is interesting and insightful – However, most of us who have become Messianic believers in Yeshua, have found that only His grace and example helps! Forgiveness is critical for all of us, no matter what the reason. It is because of our Lord’s forgiveness that we can apply that we ever find
peace and relief for what has happened to us in our lives. The Bible reminds us to forgive as He forgave us – to Him be all the glory and praise!