This is dedicated to two dear friends, Rochelle and Alan Bernard of blessed memory who passed away 5 years ago today, 4th of Tishrei (11 September 2010).
Rochelle was like a big sister to me, she listened, had very wise words and I learned a lot from her about true Gemilut Hasadim, altruistic kindness.
Below is an idea I shared on BBC Radio2 ‘Pause for Thought’, inspired by Rochelle, Rachel bat Moshe.
Wiping The Slate Clean
My memory is pretty good, I can recall books I’ve read, people I’ve met and important dates. But I also tend to remember insults and injuries long past and sometimes I have a hard time letting go. I’m good at forgiving but not so good at forgetting.
Sometimes I wish I was more like my dear friend who had a remarkable capacity to forgive and forget. Several years ago she was betrayed by someone very close to her and although it was obvious to me their relationship was broken beyond repair, she was determined not to let this be the case. She made a conscious decision not to dwell on the pain caused but to let it go, by willfully forgetting the past in order to start a new chapter.
And yet while I admire her greatly, I know I am made of different stuff. I just cannot willfully forget. I will always remember. For me the solution lies not in suppressing memory but in changing the way I react. In this I am guided by a passage from the Jewish daily prayer:
‘My God, to those who curse me, let my soul be silent’
I have learned that silence is an important part of forgiveness. By not responding to hurtful words or talking about a painful past I am able to create the space and the possibility for a hopeful future.
I may not always forget, but through silence I can soften the edges of bad memories until the gradually fade of their own accord making my forgiveness complete and irreversible.