Forgiveness
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Rosh HashanahCommunity

Forgiveness

Susanne Katz is director of exhibitions for The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum.

Road Runner, Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny and Garfield were some of my favorite cartoon characters in my youth. Whether on the television screen or in the comic strips, they were having fun doing their inappropriate and often destructive shenanigans. They laughed as they walked away from the mess they made, and the damage was cleaned up after they left the scene.  I can’t remember any of these characters turning around and declaring “I’m sorry,” or “Please forgive me.”

I wondered if the lack of moral conscience was because they were animals, not human beings.  Still, they seemed to have human emotions. Couldn’t they, every once in a while, turn around and apologize and declare “I didn’t know,” or “I didn’t mean it”?

Forgiveness can mean a conscious letting go of hurt, pain and grudges. It feels better to wake up each day with a feeling of joy rather than of resentment. But often, letting go means moving to a higher ground, where your emotions move from bitterness to a deliberate and healthy plane.

I occasionally have a vision of myself, sitting on a cliff overlooking a river. In that river are the characters and events in that day. As the river flows by, I can see what is happening and choose when and where I will be present without losing myself to the raging water.

As we close the door on destructive situations, we can consciously declare, “I can’t let you hurt me again.  I’m closing that door.” Forgiveness does not have to mean giving permission to repeat bad behavior, nor does it have to mean being angry. It can just mean that your need is to rid yourself of the destruction.

As my children were growing up, I would remind them that everyone does something in their lifetime that is wrong, and the next step was to decide, with me, on the best and most caring solution. That way, they could understand their role in healing a hurt and asking for forgiveness.

This is a time of year when Jews revisit their actions and their behavior and choose to begin a new year with healthy and caring intentions. May this year be the sweetest of years, filled with the best of intentions.

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