There is true story told years ago about a couple that was married for many years but could not have children. They tried all methods and went to all the doctors and rabbis they could find in order to be blessed with a child. They finally met the holy Rabbi from Lublin, who told the man that he must find the lady that he broke off the engagement with, 20 years earlier, and ask her for her forgiveness.
The man was beside himself. The first engagement took place so long ago, and he had no idea where to even begin to look for her. The rabbi told him to sell all his property and to set out to a fare in a faraway town. The rabbi told him the date of the fare and told him that this lady would be there. He was to find her, apologize, and give her money to make up for her pain.
The man sold all he had and set off for the fare in this faraway town. It took him a few months to finally arrive at the destination the Rabbi had given him.
The fare was in town for a week. He wasn’t sure where to look, but he went up and down the streets daily, hoping to find her, or find some hint that would lead him to this woman. He was exhausted from the travelling, from looking for the woman and not finding her, and he was utterly discouraged. He was broken from the whole adventure, and it took everything out of him.
Suddenly a heavy downpour started. He tried to find shelter, so he ran to a nearby store and stood under the awning waiting for the rain to stop. He turned around to see who was standing right next to him, and there she was; the first woman he was engaged to. He could not believe his eyes. So many years had passed and still she looked so young and beautiful. He remembered her immediately.
He said, “I’ve been looking all over for you,” and she responded, “I know.” “You know?” he was very surprised, but too focused in wanting to ask for forgiveness, so he let that comment go.
He continued, “I came here looking for you, since I want to ask for your forgiveness. I know it’s been over 20 years, but I’m really sorry that I hurt you so badly all those years ago. Here, I brought you some money to make amends for some of the pain I caused you. Please take it from me.”
She said, “I don’t need your money but my brother does. Give it to him and I will forgive you. He is marrying off his daughter tonight and can greatly use the money. Tell him it’s from me.” “Come with me,” he begged her, “give it to him yourself.” But she refused; she just told him to hurry before it would be too late.
He had no time to stay and talk and find out more about her, since he had to make it to her brother in time.
When he arrived at the brother’s home, he saw that everyone was sad. Everyone was crying. He didn’t understand. It’s a wedding. The man asked the brother why everyone was so sad on what should be a happy day. The brother explained that the groom’s side called off the wedding because he couldn’t come up with the amount of money that he had promised the couple for the wedding. The man quickly pulled out the money from his pocket, handed it to the brother and said, “Here, this is from your sister.” The brother fainted on the spot. Everyone around tried to wake him.
The brother finally got up and said, “Who are you?”
“I’m the man who broke off the engagement to your sister 20 years ago.”
The brother started to shout at the man. “Get out of here. And I surely don’t want your money.”
The man said, “You have a right to be mad at me but the money isn’t from me, it’s really from your sister, I just left her at the fare in the neighboring town.”
“You really are crazy,” exclaimed the brother, “my sister is dead nearly 20 years.”
The man stood in shock and wasn’t sure what to say, The brother continued, “Shortly after you broke her heart, she got sick and died. She loved you so much.” The man was so ashamed.
He realized that the holy rabbi brought this woman’s soul back to life, just to have her forgive him. He begged the brother to take the money anyway and to marry off his daughter right away.
The wedding took place, and the man returned to his home town. When he returned, the rabbi said, “You were forgiven and you will soon be blessed with a child.”
Today I don’t know of any such holy rabbis that could make such an encounter happen, but I do know that even today the element of asking for someone’s forgiveness, even if years have passed, still holds true. All our actions are written down in the heavenly courts. Things we remember and things we have already forgotten, Hashem remembers them all. Sometimes we are waiting for some very important event to take place or for some request of ours to be answered, and it just seems to be stuck.
Hurting or upsetting any person is a very serious sin, especially in the eyes of the Creator who created us all and loves all of His children. If we are asking G-d for help in some matter and we feel that something is simply stuck and we’re not sure what it is, we must reflect back on our lives, especially in the specific category we are asking for, and see if there was anyone we hurt that should be asked for forgiveness.
I myself had this experience. Recently, I have been asking for success in finding a home of my own, and I really felt stuck. I felt that G-d heard my prayers and yet that there was still something getting in the way.
A few nights ago my husband asked me if I hurt anyone having to do with a home that I had in the past. I tried hard to remember and it took some time, but then I remembered.
About 15 years ago I had an issue with two people over not wanting to let them add on to their property since at the time I felt that it would block the view from our window. When I recalled this incident I really felt ashamed. Truthfully, had they added on the extra room it would not have really blocked anything. We had a window, but no view at all. The view we had was the wall of the building next door. So another wall really wouldn’t have made any difference.
To them it meant so much. Reflecting back now I felt very bad. It would have meant the world to them, and to me at the time it really wasn’t so significant. What a shame. I don’t live there anymore and I had no idea if those people still lived there.
It took me a few days to find out where they live today, but thank goodness I reached them. They were utterly surprised to receive my call. I could hear, in the silence of the conversation, that my apology was well in place; it was as if no time had passed in between. They too had since moved, but they remembered the event very well. I could feel their pain of long ago, surfacing once again. They accepted my sincere apology and wished me well.
I definitely feel that the heavenly courts erased a big black mark from my book. I really felt that a big cloud was lifted off my soul and now the road is opened for only good things ahead, especially for finding a new home for me and my family.
We are now in the Hebrew month of Tammuz which
means that we are approaching the high holidays and it’s never soon enough to start preparing and repenting.
May all our prayers be answered in the best way possible.