The goal of Table Talk (the Art of Amazement blog) is to stimulate conversation at your Friday night dinner table. Please print and share the story and question.
Announcement – we have a new 2-minute marketing video up on jsli.org - please tell me what you think.
This is a true story: a Holocaust survivor made it to Israel and became a teacher. Unfortunately, she was not able to find a husband. But she was a dedicated teacher who loved her job and her students. One year, however, she had a nightmare class – the kind that every teacher gets once in awhile. A girl in that class wrote her a note, “I don’t like you because you’re an old maid.” The teacher was so devastated by this insult that she immediately left not only the classroom but the school, and she failed to appear the next day. Nor did she answer her phone. The school principal went to her apartment and found her dead. The medical examiner determined that she had died of a heart attack.
This is a dramatic and tragic example of the power of speech. The problem is that when making hurtful comments, we’re usually completely unaware of what we’re doing.
So how do you fix the problem when you’ve insulted someone?
Gotta say sorry.
But not just “sorry”. It has to be from the heart. Something like, “I was being stupid, I was under a lot of stress, what I said wasn’t true, I was trying to hurt you and I feel terrible about it, etc.” You have to convince the victim that you are really sorry. If they don’t forgive you in their heart, if they only mouth the words “it’s OK”, it’s not true forgiveness.
So what do you do if they don’t forgive you?
Try again. The second time, come up with a different strategy. Try a different tone, a different approach.
How many times should you try? Three.
When it comes to hurting someone’s feelings, as R. Avigdor Miller says, “Even when you're right, you're wrong. And when you're wrong, that's right.”
The above is based on a story in the book Walking with Rabbi Miller.
So here's your table-talk question - what do you do about the people who insulted you and never asked for forgiveness, either because they were too proud, or lazy, or simply forgot?
There is an ancient Jewish bedtime practice of verbally declaring “I hereby forgive anyone who has insulted me or hurt me in any way today.”
PS – chesed opportunity:
Support Sara Phillips! Sara has taken a leave of absence from Michigan State University, College of Law this semester due to extensive time spent in the hospital. Sara’s medical condition, ulcerative colitis, caused her immune system to weaken and sepsis to form in her bloodstream, resulting in her right leg being amputated. Sara had the stamina to undergo three serious surgeries in the span of two weeks, in spite of her weakened condition. In addition, Sara’s colon must soon be removed. Two months later, the fighter, Sara, is staying strong!
Sara’s student insurance policy is limited, her medical bills and medication are now being paid out of pocket, and she needs all of your help. Two months ago, her parents have flown from Florida to care for Sara, meanwhile leaving their jobs. Sara’s friends and family are asking for your support in this time of need. For further information about Sara’s story, please click here. To help out, click here.