To whom should we show forgiveness?

The three weeks that culminate in Tisha B’Av are always difficult in Israel. This year was no different. There have been shootings, stabbings, killings, rioting and increased tension and fear. As is typical in cases like these, we begin the blame game, and begin using unhelpful phrases such as “them” and “those people.”

Some rabbis, rather than seeing a wounded terrorist as a human being created in the image of God, bemoan the fact that he is being treated in an Israeli hospital and say that he should have been killed. Though I understand the sentiment, I do believe that those in a position of spiritual leadership need to be more careful with their words.

Additionally, there are internal issues that many are facing. Two of my dear friends have cancer, and I just went to the funeral of a young mother who left behind three teenage boys, all of whom are my students. We are all aware that we must all band together, in school and out, to help these boys through their grief.

We face our own mortality during times such as these. We all take a deep, collective breath knowing, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

Just as I was beginning to think I would simply need to come alongside others during this time (my own stuff was fine, thank you very much), my son came to me and told me he had been offered a job with a congregation with which we had painfully and completely cut ties. How are we to respond? Frankly, our knee jerk reaction was to say, “Forget it. Absolutely not. Blood is thicker than water; stay away.”

However, if we are to be disciples of Yeshua, we must be ever vigilant in seeking ways to reconcile and be a blessing. It is easy to stay in our respective corners and lick our wounds. Some wounds are very deep and need a long time to heal. If Yeshua can say, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do!” so should we!

A servant is not above his master and if our Master was betrayed, why do we think we will not be?

God doesn’t leave us in our brokenness. He encourages us to face our wounds and to grow stronger, healthier, and conform into his image. The position my son is being offered is to help kids become godly men and women to face the future with confidence and spiritual strength. He is being asked to impart the knowledge that we, as his parents, were largely instrumental in giving him.

Are we to tell him he cannot pay it forward? Or, he cannot pay it forward in that context?! Why should future generations not benefit from his wisdom and love? Do we really want to perpetuate a feud that has already hurt many families? Do we want our spiritual life to be a microcosm of the horrors we are facing in this land? How are we any better if we live in factions and unforgiveness?

Therefore, as an act of my will, because my flesh had other ideas, I will give my blessing and tell him to do a great job, as I am sure he will. I will caution him to be wary and wise—to fly and to teach others to do so, as well.

I will decide to live in forgiveness rather than bitterness, and to be an instrument of peace and reconciliation rather than division. May God help us all to mourn and grieve the brokenness, but not to stay there.

This article originally appeared on First Fruits of Zion, August 22, 2017, and reposted with permission.