Israel, too, Deserves Our Forgiveness
By Elana Heideman
Yom Kippur. A time to forgive and accept forgiveness. A time to let go.
I recently came across a powerful list of five ways to let go that got me thinking about forgiveness in a new light. I've shared it below because I think there is great value to having food for thought this time of year (well, any time of year really...)
By now, we have begun to reach out and ask mehila, forgiveness from those we may have harmed, either intentionally or unintentionally. We seek out ways to mend what is broken and build bridges when possible. But I wonder:
Can we follow this same prescription when it comes to our relationship with Israel?
Can we forgive Israel for not being perfect?
Can we look at her achievements and be proud, knowing that our nation can and will eternally seek out good and strive to be better?
Will we, can we forgive a world that blindly follows the venemous demonization of our bretheren? A world that barely bats an eyelash when our people are under attack, living with an ongoing threat of pain and suffering because of an ideological hatred based on nothing but lies?
Can we forgive our friends, family, colleagues who were and are silent in the face of the continued declarations to destroy our nation state and exile us from our ancestral land?
Can we look at our fellow Jews we may disagree with - left, right, religious, secular, Diaspora, settlers, whomever and wherever - and say "I forgive you as I hope you will forgive me for our differences of opinion or perspectives, our ideas on what is best for Israel."
The myriad of articles and polls that try to quantify the relationship with Israel for Diaspora Jews are not giving our people any benefit of the doubt. For, in truth, the relationship between Israel and the Jewish People is unquantifiable. Spanning generations, we must have faith that even with the current divisions facing our people, this, too, we shall overcome. Even with the rise of hatred against our nation, this, too, we shall oversome.
Israel, too, deserves to be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.
And our collective commitment is part and parcel of ensuring this for today, tomorrow, and foreer.
Our nation is a living, breathing entity - scattered across the globe, yet bound together through faith, history, and hope to the land of our freedom. It is our pride and commitment, our struggle for perfection, our belief in the greater good, that makes us a light among the nations. And Israel is a part of that destiny.
So as we reach toward the Day of Judgment, let us strive to seek out ways we can forgive ourselves, each other, and, yes, Israel - none of us are perfect. No one side is at fault. And we have a collective AND individual obligation to create the peace among our people and in our relationships with Israel just as we pray for peace for all mankind.
1. Look in the Mirror. Recognize that you are a difficult person to live with, that you have your own imperfections and limitations that others have to deal with all the time. Forgive the weaknesses of others the same way you overlook your own mistakes.
2. See the Big Picture. Think of Yom Kippur as a lookout on the top of a mountain that you have been climbing all year. See your days and their moments spread out before you. Be willing to look now at this big picture of your life. Your ultimate goals. Your beliefs. See each person in your life as part of that picture. What lesson have they taught you even if you had to learn it through pain?
3. Say Something. Asking forgiveness doesn’t require a long letter or a meticulously planned speech. Often we just need to say something. Anything. I’m sorry. Let’s start over. I want to talk. It’s that first step that begins to chip away at the buried resentment.
4. Break the Cycle. Sometimes we get into patterns with people that we love that aren’t working. Even if you feel that you are ‘right,’ break out of the cycle. Stop having the same argument over and over again. Have the courage to put blame aside and say: Let’s start over. “Insanity is not doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results; insanity is doing the same thing over and over again knowing full well what the results will be.” Anonymous
5. Forgive Life. Sometimes we resent others for hard circumstances in our own lives. It is easier to blame people than to face our own disappointments. We need to go one step further. To forgive God for all of our frustrations and challenges. To forgive Him for hiding His Face when we needed Him most. To forgive Him for the times when it seemed like He gave up on us altogether. To now turn around and say thank You. For life. For another chance. For the gift of forgiveness itself. Knock incessantly on the closing gate of Yom Kippur. He wants to forgive us and for us to forgive.
Forgiveness is like a web. It is not a straight line of cause and effect. Remember – you tend not to forgive and forget. Sometimes you seem to be going in circles, as if you have made little progress. But you have. The progress in the world of the spirit is like a good refrain: it repeats over and over again. You heal, you feel anger, you accept, you learn, you forgive, you heal, and then life continues and you are soon called upon to repeat one or more of these steps. But each repetition is not in vain. It’s not that you have not learned a lesson, rather, it’s that the lessons of the spirit are learned throughout a lifetime, each time going deeper into the truth of it all.
Excerpt from The Bridge to Forgiveness