Isn’t that one reason AA groups are so successful? Former addicts, those who know what it means to overcome addiction, help those trying to beat their own addiction.
To recall our former state of helplessness and degradation does not demand our hate or recrimination toward anyone, even those directly responsible for our galus. Quite the opposite. Our memory serves to give us insight so that we can impart compassion and sympathy for the oppressed and underprivileged in society, communally and individually. The galus experience sharpens and refines our ethical sensitivity and moral awareness. The Torah commands us, “You shall not pervert the justice due a stranger or to the fatherless, nor take a widow’s garment in pawn.”
“Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you to observe this commandment.”
Thirty-six times we are exhorted to treat the stranger kindly. Why? Because you were gerim in Egypt. You know the nefesh ha’ger. Therefore, you are expected to behave more kindly and ethically than one who does not know what it means to be a stranger.
This is no easy task, to draw positive lessons from life’s challenges and hurts. It does not come easy to be caring rather than spiteful. We struggle to let go of hatred when it is directed toward one who has been a mortal enemy. But we do so, just as we have learned “not to hate” the Egyptians. Yet too often we cling to our animosity when it is directed toward those who had once been to us “as one flesh.”
We see anger, bitterness and hatred expressed and acted upon between divorced couples – all to the detriment of each other and, most certainly, to any children caught in the middle of these raw emotions. Divorce, with all its hurt, uncertainty and loss, should not lead to lifelong enmity. Two people need to find a new path forward, a path that will remain lost to them until they can find a way to live with civility, decency and sensitivity toward one another.
Tizkor et eretz Mitzrayim!
Move de line!
The promise of the chuppah was unrealized. This is terribly sad. The kiddushin did not take hold. t happens more often than any of us would like. But when it does, let’s turn the pages of Tractate Gittin.
Move de line.
Why should our frum communities allow for so many pained husbands to focus on hatred and spite rather than freedom and sensitivity? Why insist on keeping wives in chains, literally and figuratively? Why should an unsuccessful marriage be made even worse, twisted into the enslavement of a tormented agunah wife, witnessed by bewildered and frightened children?
Did not these “learned” husbands take to heart the teachings of Torah and mussar? Where does our tradition teach to maintain such venom toward a woman with whom you had intended to spend your life? Where do our sages teach to plant your boot upon the neck of the woman who gave birth to your children?
The marriage did not work. It is sad. It is hurtful. But what do our unhappy days in Egypt teach us about your suffering? To continually hate? No – the very opposite. To not hate.
No good will ever come from hatred – neither personal nor communal. Moving forward can only be accomplished by letting go. Move de line. Get on with life!
Once again, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is particularly articulate and powerful when he teaches, “Hatred and liberty cannot coexist. A free people does not hate its former enemies; if it does, it is not yet ready for freedom. To create a non- persecuting society out of people who have been persecuted, you have to break the chains of the past; rob memory of its sting; sublimate pain into constructive energy and the determination to build a different future.”
To any spiteful husband who has not yet delivered the get to his chained wife: seek a rav, a therapist, a friend – someone, anyone, who can help you let go of your hate, who can help you turn your heart toward freedom, both yours and your ex’s.
If you are a friend, a teacher or a mentor to such a husband, take him by the hand; help him free himself from his self-affliction. Declare freedom for him and his agunah wife.
About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran serves as OU Kosher’s vice president of Communications and Marketing.
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