Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tomer Devorah & Babka.com

This morning as I was commuting to work, I came across a section in Tomer Devorah that provided clear guidance on how to deal with a situation that has been troubling me recently:

"A person should also conduct himself according to this attribute: he should not suppress his fellow's favor and remember the harm he has done to him. On the contrary, he should suppress the evil, erasing it from his memory and abandoning it, so that no evil will dwell with him, and his favor should be constantly arranged before him. One should always remember the favor of his fellow, allowing it to prevail over all the evil actions he has done to him. "

Taking this advice, I just sent poppy seed swirl cakes and mandel bread from Delancey Dessert Company along with a note of appreciation to the person who has been both helpful and harmful to me. It is my effort to "erase the evil" in my memory.


At June 13, 2006 at 3:43:00 PM EDT, Anonymous chabakuk elisha said...


I hope things improve on that front!

I know that this is a theme often touched on in Chassidus, Mussar and other sources, but it is a tricky thing. It can make someone easy prey, and reward bullies if not applied properly; that's why I was pleased to notice that you say the person has been helpful.

There are some who misinterpret remarks of this type, thinking that they are meant to display kindness to those who harm them.
We must remember:

1. Once who displays favor, forgiveness or kindness to evil people, ends up harming innocent people.
2. Turning the other cheek is not a Torah concept.

Forgiveness is without question a Torah ideal, and should be used whenever appropriate, but as my father always says, "You’re not obligated to forgive people who aren't even sorry for what they did." (Obviously, it's also important not to get yourself down, and we don't believe in revenge.)

At June 13, 2006 at 4:05:00 PM EDT, Anonymous chabakuk elisha said...

(Once = One)

At June 13, 2006 at 7:10:00 PM EDT, Blogger Alice said...

Will you send one to my mother-in-law too? : )

At June 13, 2006 at 7:23:00 PM EDT, Blogger Alice said...

How do you know if someone is really sorry? It's tricky with the people who act sorry then do bad stuff over and over. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat.

At June 14, 2006 at 6:19:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Alice: ;)

I will leave your second question up to Chabakuk Elisha to answer since it references his comment.

At June 14, 2006 at 10:52:00 AM EDT, Blogger socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Yes it is difficult to know who is sorry. If we are able to be big enough and apologize anyway we are doing the best service to ourselves. All good habbits make us better as ppl.

At June 14, 2006 at 4:32:00 PM EDT, Anonymous chabakuk elisha said...

We definitely must forgive people under all normal circumstances. And there's no question that we must avoid harboring animosity as much as possible – not to mention that it really only damages ourselves.

So, forgive, forgive, forgive; but, don’t necessarily forget. We aren’t supposed to be abused or taken advantage of. The serial abuser is not deserving of forgiveness.

At June 15, 2006 at 6:33:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

"forgive, forgive, forgive; but, don’t necessarily forget."

Great advice, my friend!

At June 16, 2006 at 9:32:00 AM EDT, Blogger Alice said...

"The serial abuser is not deserving of forgiveness." This is one of thousands of reasons I love Judaism so much.

So then I guess with the people who keep doing the same mean things over and over- although they feel remorse in between- some attempt must be made to move the situation forward, to change a key variable, or else you are just going back for third and fourth helpings of abuse, which is not helping anyone.

It just occurred to me that going back for more after a certain point also creates a scenario that is bad for the abuser too, one could argue. If they can't handle the situation without doing something unhealthy, why put them in it?


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