Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Never Too Late, Forgiveness and Comfort

Yesterday was Tisha B'Av, the ninth of the Jewish Month of Av, a day full of tragedy in Jewish History.  Our sages tell us that the Second Temple was destroyed because of sins between people, holding grudges and taking out revenge.

My mother passed away just a month ago, and I'm finishing off an extended* shloshim, the thirty days from burial, a period of time in which the mourner is required to restrict oneself from pleasures, such as luxuriating in a bathtub, wearing new clothes, cutting hair, manicures/pedicures, listening to music, going to social events etc.  For most mourners, that is those who are mourning a spouse, sibling or child, the official mourning ends with the shloshim, but for a parent it lasts a full twelve months (according to the Jewish Calendar.)  The additional months are less restrictive; the hygienic acts of bathing/swimming, haircutting, manicures/pedicures are allowed.

Jewish Law requires a mourner to be comforted all during that mourning period, even after the seven day shiva has ended.  My shiva for my mother was international.  I began it immediately after the funeral in Long Island, NY, at my cousin's home, then I was in Westchester, NY at my sister-in-law's, then to JFK International Airport where people who realized I was in "shiva mode" with ripped shirt and slippers, said the traditional words of comfort and then I flew home to Shiloh where I completed the shiva.  Obviously I didn't have too long a time in any one place.

I can probably list almost everyone who did manage to visit or call during the shiva. That's bad.  It means that I have wondered why some people hadn't.  Their absence wasn't lost on me.  In some cases, I was (even am) very upset and surprised.  But then one by one, I have gotten calls, or people have stopped me in the street apologizing effusively for missing the shiva.  Last night one neighbor came over, not wanting to take a short-cut in comforting me.  It's a good thing we haven't yet rehung the pictures nor put away all the photo albums.

Of that list of people, almost everyone has since spoken to me.  There are still a couple whose absence really hurts.  I was planning on letting it fester, but then inspired by a wonderful blog post by my friend Ruti, I realized that it would be a terrible mistake.

None of us are perfect.  I'm sure I have unintentionally and inadvertently hurt or offended many.  If I decide to forgive those who have hurt me, there's a chance that I, too, will be forgiven.  It's never too late to forgive and comfort, but don't procrastinate any more.

* My shloshim for my mother is longer than thirty days, because the funeral was four days after her death, and we count it from the funeral, not the day of death.

my mother with a great-granddaughter


Ruti Mizrachi said...

Again, dear friend, may you be comforted.

I hope that the many shiva visits I have not made -- out of town at the time; didn't hear about it till well after the event; distance and cost involved with getting there didn't work into the budget; reasons that are not good enough -- are not causing pain to fester in the hearts of precious human beings.

If I have inadvertently caused that kind of pain, I hope that those mourners have chosen to forgive as you have, Batya.

I love the photo at the bottom of your post. I can see that you have inherited (and therefore keep alive) your mother's smile. Keep it shining, with your own special light!

Batya said...

Ruti, darling thank you.
We all learn from each other.
ps We must campaign to allow tie games in the IFL, right?!

Ruti Mizrachi said...

LOL!!! Indeed! :-D

Batya said...

ruti, the fellas probably won't understand...

Ruti Mizrachi said...

They will look at us like we are a few aces short of a full deck.

Yocheved Golani said...

Some days the best I can offer is a sigh. Words fail me for some occasions. I believe they should. Tears, laughter and sighs, hugs too, convey so much more than phrases that can come off hollow or insufficient. Sometimes, we just need to "Be" with each other.

Lorri M. said...

What a poignant and humane post.

I love the photo at the bottom...such a joyous and precious one!

I agree with what Yocheved Golani said in regards to comforting.

Batya said...

Ruti, what do men know?

Yocheved, so true.
Lorri, thanks. The baby in the picture, (now almost 3) reminds me of my mother with her singing and dancing and loving the stage.