Every year as Yom Kippur draws near we are reminded that we must approach anyone we have hurt or offended and ask for their forgiveness before we can expect a pardon from HaShem. What happens, though, when the person I’ve offended is not on my radar screen and nowhere to be found?
That’s exactly what happened to me just five days before Rosh Hashanah. Five days that I wanted to be on my best behavior and I blew it! It happened in a split second. I was leaving a crowded gathering at the same time a group of boisterous, teenage girls were entering. One girl spied her friend and excitedly reached to gather her in a hug. That was very nice but I was in between the two of them and in her enthusiasm she knocked into me, I lost my balance, and only the helping hand of my neighbor kept me from landing on the ground.
Shook up and indignant I grabbed the girl by the shoulder and angrily told her, “You almost knocked me over!”
She looked at me in surprise and then, before I could even regret losing my temper, she was swallowed up in the swarm of other girls. My regret came seconds later. I knew the young woman hadn’t intended to knock me over. Why couldn’t I have given her the benefit of the doubt? Or spoken to her kindly? True, she could have used a rebuke but I’m sure my irate reaction did little to make her feel sorry about her reckless behavior. Truth be told, she probably forgot about the incident as soon as it was over.
I didn’t forget though. My behavior disappointed and embarrassed me. Israel is a small country but even if I would trip over the girl again I knew I wouldn’t recognize her. How could I possibly apologize? And then a rabbi suggested that I ask HaShem to put me in the same circumstances again so I could prove my regret by not losing my cool.
It was a great suggestion and, believe it or not, my test came the following day. I was walking down the sidewalk on Agrippas Street in downtown Jerusalem. Suddenly I screamed in terror as a motorcycle appeared out of an alley, heading straight for me, and almost ran me down. The driver stopped abruptly and mumbled something, perhaps “I’m sorry” and was off. I kept my cool, though. I didn’t hit him with my purse and I didn’t kick his motorcycle. Nor did I curse him or call him names. All I did was yell after him, “This is a sidewalk!” He didn’t care.
|courtesy of kawasakininja|
“He doesn’t have any brains,” one bystander told me.
“I almost didn’t have my life,” I replied. Then I added, “Baruch HaShem” because not only had HaShem saved me from injury He had also let me pass my test. I pray He forgave me for my former transgression.