And Do Not Hold A Grudge
The Torah tells us that we must not hold a grudge, ולא תטר(Vayikra 19:18).
The Coat and a Grudge
I have always considered myself to be good at sharing, the kind of kid who lets you play with my rainbow loom if you ask. So when Sarah asked to borrow my light blue leather jacket, my favorite one with the fur lining, the jacket that I had received as a birthday gift from my Aunt Deloris, even though I hesitated, I knew I would lend it to her.
“I just need it for my brother’s bar mitzva this weekend,” said Sarah. “My ‘fancy’ cousins are coming in from New York, and I have to dress up.”
She looked like a puppy dog. I knew her dad was out of work and they couldn’t afford to buy new things. I agreed to lend her the coat; it would make her fit in, and I didn’t need it that weekend.
That next week when I saw Sarah in school, she smiled and thanked me profusely for letting her wear my coat. She said her cousins thought she looked so cool. I was happy she was happy and asked that she bring the coat back as soon as possible. She said, “No problem,” but Sarah forgot it every day that week. Then, she was out sick with the flu.
I called her at home and heard her mom call to her, “Sarah, your friend Baila needs you to return her jacket.”
But the next week at school, Sarah said, “Oh, I must have forgotten your coat again.”
I started to worry. Then, the next day, Sarah brought in my jacket.
“Sorry about the rip,” she said. “I must have bumped into a nail that was sticking out of our fence.”
I could tell Sarah felt bad, but I did, too. I felt taken advantage of. She had used my coat and ruined it. I wanted to tell all of our friends, I was so angry.
That night, I tossed and turned in bed. How could Sarah have been so careless with my favorite coat? And why did it take her so long to return it?
I imagined Sarah showing off my coat to her cousins and then ruining it and not even telling me right away. Maybe I should make Sarah buy me another coat. But where would she come up with the money? Her family was poor.
The next day, I had a bad cold and stayed home from school. Sitting in bed drinking tea, I realized being angry with Sarah was only hurting me. I determined to forgive her before I got even sicker over a simple coat.
The next day, Sarah invited me over to study.
“I was really mad at you for ripping my coat,” I told Sarah. “My coat can’t be repaired so easily, you know.”
“I’m sorry, I was embarrassed to tell you, and that’s what took me so long to return it to you,” she said. “I hope you’ll forgive me.”
“I do,” I said, and Sarah smiled. I felt great.
Story published in the Baltimore Jewish Times, October 30, 2013.
What is one way to overcome a grudge when someone has damaged our belongings?
Why does the Torah ask us not to hold grudges?
What would you have done if you were Baila?
Stretch of the Week:
Think of a situation where you are upset with someone or you are holding a grudge. Do you need to talk to that person to clear things up or is it something where you can just forgive them?