Wednesday, September 1, 2010

SD Forgives Judith

You know you are desperate for blog topics when you peruse your inbox from your oldest email account looking for ideas and inspiration. It worked, however, so I won't complain.

Ages ago, I did this meme. I don't usually like memes, but this one was fun. In fact, I did it before I had a blog, just for fun, to see what would come up. I emailed the results to myself, just cuz that's what I do. And I found em tonight.

One line reads: "SD needs to forgive Judith." In italics, for those too lazy to click and read the post, I wrote: "SD doesn't even know who Judith is."

But as I sat there reading this old email, I had a flash of memory. I suddenly remembered who Judith is. And I have plenty to forgive.

Judith was a seamstress. She had a tiny shop in the basement underneath some other store. I'm not sure what originally led us down those steps, but I do remember what kept us there. It was the pictures on the wall. They were of a bunch if frum girls in wedding gowns. At first, we were surprised, because Judith is not only a non-Jew, but her store is nowhere near a Jewish area, and it was hard to imagine some other frum people making the connection to her.
Even more surprising was that we knew the girls in the picture. They were of the Silver family, a family in our neighborhood who's daughters went to our school. And so we decided to start using her services for our work. I guess the deciding factor was that she did unbelievable work at ridiculously low prices.

We started small. We sent her a number of small things, which were completed in a timely and masterful fashion. And so we sent her more things, things which probably required a little more trust.
Our patronization of her business reached a peak one year on Erev Pesach. Every member of the family got new clothes, and all of it needed alterations. And we sent it all to her.
We weren't particularly worried when Judith failed to have our clothing ready on the promised date. There were still a few more days before yom tov, and see had to be in our area on erev yom tov, and she promised she would deliver it to our house.
Erev yom tov came in the usual frenzy of last minute preparation. We were all excited for our clothing to arrive, myself most of all, because my new outfit was being completely changed by her, so I wasn't even sure what it was going to look like.
As the day went on and yom tov approached, we started to worry a tad. My mother called her office number, her house number, her cell number...but there was no answer. Judith, and all of our clothing were Missing In Action.
If anyone thinks this story has a Fairytale ending where Judith showed up on our doorstep minutes before yom tov, clutching our clothing, you are sadly mistaken. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I remember being inconsolable as I went into Yom Tov. Instead of the gorgeous new outfit I was expecting to wear, I was wearing the same old outfit I had worn all winter long. I don't particularly remember how my siblings felt about it, but I know I was devastated.
It sounds trivial, but its not. Not to an adult, and especially not to a child. And then, to make matters worse, a few weeks after Yom Tov, we finally found out what happened. Turns out, Judith was fed up with life. And so, on the way to our house, with all of our clothing aboard, she decided to end it.
She lived through her attempt, and shockingly enough, so did most of our clothes. But receiving it six months later when I had grown a couple of inches seemed like more of a slap in the face than a relief. My outfit truly was beautiful, but I no longer fit into it.

It's seems incredibly selfish, in retrospect. But I won't deny it. I was angry at Judith. I was angry at her for taking her own life. I was angry at her for not delivering our clothing first. I was angry at her for messing up my yom tov. I was angry, just angry.
Looking back, it seems silly, insignificant. But I was a child. My hopes were dashed and I was hurt. But life moved on and I forgot, even if I didn't forgive, Judith.

And that would have been the end of the story had I not reread that post tonight. I do need to forgive Judith, not because she needs forgiveness (although one never knows. Her second attempt was successful.) but because forgiving people feels good. I didn't hold a grudge against her all this time, but tonight, I thought about it, and I got over it. And now I can know without a doubt that I have moved on. That I have forgiven Judith.
And now, as we approach the yamim noraim, I think of people who have truly wronged me. Not unintentionally. Not years ago. Recent wrongs that still hurt. And I realize that forgiveness is not only for them. It's for me. I need to forgive them so that I can be over it, so that I can be cleansed, so that I can be forgiven.

Please note: the anger I wrote about was childish, and absolutely nonexistent at this point. Now, I know how awful she must have felt, and how my new outfit was the absolute least of the tragedy that occurred when Judith attempted to take her life.


Anonymous said...

I feel bad for Judith. It's not always about you.

Bookworm said...

A rabbi once said, "Whatever you do, you do for yourself." Forgiveness is also letting go. Many times, we cling to out grudges while the offending party is not even aware of the animosity we feel. The anger against someone else turns us into bitter people, prematurely wrinkling, without much benefit.

In the end, it is as you said - the forgiveness is for ourselves, not others.

itsagift said...

This is a really good post.

It's important to let go of the past and the feelings that come along with those's not always easy but it's the most liberating feeling-when you feel FREE cuz you let go!

Thanks for this post. It put me into the right mode.

chanie said...

I feel bad for kid-you - that's really disappointing and upsetting.
I'm glad you got over it, though. (See, you HAVE matured after all!)

Anonymous said...

Forgiveness is something that you do for yourself. More than anything else, it is letting go of any expectation that the other person will change. It is letting go of any expectation of apology, or of recognition and acknowledgement of wrong-doing. It is acknowledging to yourself that the other person acted in the only way that this person was capable of acting at that time.

Forgiveness does not mean turning the other cheek. If a person who has wronged you in the past has the capability to hurt you again, you have every right to protect yourself. Forgiveness does not require that you extend trust either. This kind of forgiveness is not dependent on the other person changing, it is for you. for us.

let's forgive.

Shana Tovah!