Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Out of the Woodwork

I don't apologize for my posts or lack of them. This is MY blog and I post when I wanna. So I've been in and out gone almost the entire year; What can I say? It was a big year.

Well now that I'm out of the woodwork, this is exactly what I wanted to blog about.

Two very interesting stories happened to me over the summer.

The first:

My brother was engaged over the summer and while we are all very excited, that has nothing to do with my story except for that it happened the night of the vort.

I needed to be at my parents house to set up early and I had the kids with me so I didn't prepare any supper for my family because we spent the entire day around food.

My husband though, came home from work starving and went out to find himself a slice of pizza. He'd usually go to a local shop a few blocks away from the house but because he needed to do a bank deposit, he drove across town and got into line at a pizza store there.

As he was waiting in line he recognized the person standing a few people in front of him. He was wearing a microscopic yarmulka and had a very closely trimmed beard. He was a very obvious chassidish used-to-be. Not that my husband can tell these things, but my husband remembered when he was in yeshiva together with the guy and he had long peyos that reached his shoulders.

My husband, when he recounted this incident to me later told me that when he saw the guy he literally shuddered remembering how he used to torture him in school. They knew each other as kids, before their bar-mitzvahs, and this boy, who was two years older than my husband, used to make his life hell.

We're talking stealing his lunch, tearing his books, beating him up, the works.

My husband said he remembered that the boy left yeshiva at thirteen and hit the streets and had a rough couple of years on drugs and hanging out with a really bad crowd.

He hadn't heard from him in over 20 years and was surprised to see that he was still around and obviously frum again.

Just for kicks my husband called out the guy's name to see what would happen.

The guy, (let's call him Joel because I'm getting tired of calling him Guy) turned around, saw my husband, and within seconds was hugging and kissing him and crying on his shoulder.

In front of at least 30 people in the store.

My husband was shocked that he recognized him, but Joel kept crying and said he was looking for my husband for over fifteen years to ask him forgiveness.

He didn't want to go into details in public but told my husband he was suffering terribly and he had long ago decided that whatever he was suffering from was because of four boys he had hurt as a kid.

He spent years tracking three of them down and asked them for mechila, but could never get hold of my husband.

He said he read newspapers all the time looking to see if any mazal tov ads were every printed with his name in it and asked around about him.

A few months ago he'd seen an ad in a paper that a man with my husband's name was making a kiddush for a baby girl and he wanted to go but he was afraid that if it really was my husband maybe he wouldn't be so glad to see him.

In any case, he was sobbing in the pizza place that night as my husband told him he forgave him with all his heart and wished him only mazal in his life from that point forward.

My husband walked in to my brother's vort almost two hours late and literally shaking with amazement.

That's the first story.

Now comes the second, not as amazing one.

Two nights ago I couldn't sleep.

This NEVER happens to me, especially since the baby was born.

But that night I drank like two ounces of cola before bed (because normally even coke can't keep me from my sleep) and I was tossing and turning for 45 minutes before getting up and turning on my computer to catch up on some articles and emails I needed to write.

My computer automatically opens my instant messenger program when Windows starts and so as I was working I was also able to see which of my friends were online at the time with me. It was almost one in the morning by then.

Out of the blue, a schoolmate I never IM with popped up on screen to schmooze. Happens to be, she was telling me she met my brother's kallah and she was so sweet etc, but after a few minutes she told me that she really felt stupid but she had to ask me forgiveness.

She said that she was up that night because something was bothering her and when she opened her computer and saw me online it just hit her. She said she remembered that when we were in school together she and a bunch of other classmates were mean and quite cruel to me.

I actually remember it well but got over it. I didn't take it personally then and I haven't thought about those girls in a long time.

She said she can admit it now that they were all just jealous of me, but she still felt awful about it. She even reminded me of two times, two different years when we were put together in the same group for a project and I was the one who did all the work while the other 5 or 6 girls bailed on me. BOTH YEARS.

In the end the entire group got an A+ for my efforts.

I remember it, but like I said, I'm so over it.

Well, she wasn't and wanted to ask forgiveness.

Now, that's all very nice and moving, but something bothers me.

Not that fact that both my husband and I were treated badly in school, but the fact that it took YEARS for these people to ask mechila.

My husband and I are both happy well adjusted people and these incidents were long buried for both of us. Apparently though, other people were suffering and just now decided to seek us out.

That kind of gets me. The coming out of the woodwork now. When it's convenient for them. When they need us. OUR mechila.

Where were they then? When we suffered?

This is not to say I don't forgive my classmate with all my heart, I actually am so impressed and flattered that she remembered this after so much time. But why do people do the kinds of things that hurt other people and then only come back to ask forgiveness when, oh gosh, something goes wrong in their lives.

I dunno, I guess I can't expect us all to be sensitive and loving all the time, but maybe being a little more considerate and watchful isn't too much to ask?

It is chodesh Elul after all. Something to think about?


thinking out loud said...

Thanks for sharing these stories with us.
You're bothered by the fact that it took them years to ask for mechilah. It is possible that they forgot about it, and only rememebered recently. Or like in the first story, he tried to track your husband down for a while before finding him. Now of course, these behaviors shouldn't happen in the first place - like you say, we should be a bit more considerate and watchful; but kids are kids, and we're all humans... I definitely hear your point about coming back when they needed YOUR mechilah, but dont forget that even asking it then is not so easy.
I feel like I'm rambling, I hope i make sense...

"tziporah" said...

Hey!!! I can’t believe your finally posting again!!!! I agree with you one hundred percent-it’s very true and it happens over and over again.
People often do silly things; people act immature and do things which they come to regret. Especially children, and teenagers, they do things on the spur of the moment without thinking of its ramifications,
however, there comes a point in everyone’s lives, a point where a person goes through pain, and has a bump in their road, the Rabanim tell them to search their past, and then- it is at that point that we all remember, it is then that people remember the past and all the pain that they caused another, and then, then they regret their foolishness, their rash decisions that they so stupidly made in their youth. But it is too late, regret is not enough. You see, people forget, people act without thought, they don’t even realize the serious pain which they have left behind, and many times they move on with their life and forget all about it. But one day it will catch up to them, when the day comes that a person is in pain, then they remember, it is at this point that they remember the pain that they caused another.
They don’t come knocking on your door after all these years just because they need you. They come knocking because they have now realized their immaturity. They had forgotten about it, but now all these years later, now they remember, now they feel the guilt and are left with the heavy burden of dealing with all the pain.
When a person lives on top of a bed of roses, their life is wonderful, they have it so good, they are not thinking of the past when they made it bad for someone else, it is only when they fall into their rose bush, when they feel its many pricks and thorns, it is then that they remember the many thorns that they poked into you, it is then that they feel such regret for their foolish acts of stupidity, it is at this point that they come to you, begging you to forgive them for the pain that they caused you. And they hope that by patching up the pain that they caused, maybe in this zechus hashem will remove their pain.
We can learn a lesson from this; we can learn a lesson from every situation life throws at us. We must learn to be careful with our actions, to think before we speak, “EVERY ACTION HAS A REACTION” If not now then surely in the future, If we can learn to be careful with what we do , then we won’t have to go through the embarrassment of tracking down people years later. Watch your words, control your actions, Think of what your actions will bring to the future.

J.A.P. said...

Sure you make sense thinking out loud and Tziporah. Like I said in the post, I'm flattered and glad these people came to ask mechila after so long, but just sad that as kids we aren't taught to be more considerate to begin with.

"tziporah" said...

You said that you wished kids would be taught to be more considerate.....
Many times kids are not mature enough to realize what they are doing. Life experiences are what teach everyone. It is often those teenagers and children that have been through CHALLENGES that are the ones that are thoughtful and considerate beyond their years.
Being taught consideration can only be given over to a certain extent- especially in children. It’s up to the child to learn it on their own. Many times in a classroom setting you will find that the student that is more mature and thoughtful is the one that has been through challenge. It takes challenges to shape a person’s character.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back and of course it's your blog we just missed you...:) Struggles and challenges ppl face are always wake up calls. Imagine if the nisayon is a result of childish (or adult)cruelty, of course cheshbon is not that simple but I think the pain of a challenge is worse with the added guilt of "I did this to myself". Also when I think that I'm not perfect in the realm of ahavas yisrol and must have hurt plenty as well, than mechillah is so much easier.
You mentionned that you are in the process of another book. Is it coming out any time soon? and is it a true story?

J.A.P. said...

tziporah- true enough.

Anonymous- my new book was all done back in January but wont be published until this coming December of January. The publisher has lots of other books coming out so they space them out.

It's a fiction novel and I wrote it as an experiment. The style of writing is very different and I wanted to see if I could do it and if people would actually like it. So far so good though!

"TZIPORAH" said...


J.A.P. said...

Tziporah, I'll post more pics now.

For the poster who said she didn't have email and wanted to contact me, send me a comment on this post and I will read it privately without posting and then figure out a way to answer you.

J.A.P. said...

reader trying to get in touch- I don't have free texts :-(. This is the only way I can think of right now.

Anonymous said...

very true. those people are lucky though that they got mechila while they were still able to.

itsagift said...

I'm happy to hear that someone from our class asked for forgiveness. (I'm just curious who it I know it's hard that now she wakes up and realizes it's time to apologize and it doesn't take away the pain she caused you. It's just the timing that makes someone think back - either they are going through something difficult themselves or they are in teshuva-mode now that we are in Elul. Or a combination of both.
It definitely doesn't make you feel better about the things that were done back in high school - in fact, I think this phone call is a reminder of what happened in high school (even though we wont forget it...)
Anyway, you are very special for this post (and for everything else too)!! May it be a big zechus for an amazing year for you and your family!!

J.A.P. said...

Itsagift- surprisingly enough, it wasn't a girl from high school. She was a classmate in elementary school.

Brochi said...

You left off with the month of Elul and thoughts of teshuva. Since I was 9 there is something that's been haunting me excessively. I spent the summer of Grade 3 with my cousins in the country. To make a long story short I revealed to my cousin in utmost secrecy that her parents had been divorced, married before and her older sister is a half sib only. This was a major secret and I stupidly made her promise that she won't ever tell her parents that she knows. My cousin was eight then. Like a half a year later, this cousin told her twelve-year-old half sis that her father is not. Obviously, I messed up their family dynamics. My uncle was very very mad, hurt and blamed my mother for discussing it in front of her kids when she had not- another cousin told me about it. So I was little and stupid and had a big mouth and did something that had major long-term ramifications. I would hide from this uncle, could always see the hurt in my aunt, and they never trusted me. By now, both these cousins are happily married and every Elul I ask myself the same question, do I apologize and dig up a painful past for all involved or do I do nothing, take this guilt with me for the rest of my life and wonder when I’ll be slapped back. Moreover, how much to blame are little kids for being just that, little. I remember when I visited my neighbor and the door was opened by a little girl with a badly burnt scarred face. I ran away shrieking in fright-now that’s cruel and painful. I know I’m rambling and your blog is maybe not the correct forum to air my conscious but it is within topic… Any insight? BTW, your kids are adorable and Mama looks pretty good herself. I realized that the ppl posting on your blog are different than initially how come?

Anonymous said...

Brochi-im sure if it helps peo i dont think jap would mind this being used as a forum... what you wrote brought up an experiance i had...of course the two TOTALY are not the same since urs obviously had advice is if you dont want to read my whole story LOL (but in all seriousness) is to ask a rov or a teacher..someone that you feel comfortable discussing this- and respect their opionion and adivce... thats what i did when something was plauging me...
now the story to make short: in camp i was becoming quite friendly(=close to a girl,really) and then one day someone was tapping on my back like in a annoying type of way. anyway so i made some sort of comment saying something like whoever is doing that is being annoying...anyway to make a long story short- i think it was the almost friend cuz she didnt speak to me again...just bear in mind this was at a young age(relatively)...i remembered this story quite some time later...and i didnt know what to do so i asked a rov and teacher that is respected what to do...and it felt quite good to get advice...
...just as a side note - i was told to call her up and ask for forgiveness (it was a little uncomfortable & weird but felt good at the end and worked out) but as i said before the two storys are different with different issues and ramifications...but i feel for you and wish you all the best, gluck and a gut gebechted yur!

Brochi said...

Thanks Anon for your msg. I did think of asking... you won't understand but this is too deep and dark for me to ask a sheilah about. I have never since (13 years) discussed this w/ ANYONE...:) Not my parents, husband or closest friends. I know though that asking a rav would be the right thing to do. Also, I feel that my aunt and uncle don't want this brough up again.

Inspired said...

Where were they then? Being mean and selfish. Why would they apologize then if they thought they did nothing wrong? (If they thought it was wrong, why would they do it?)
Why are they coming out of the woodworks now? Because there is enough distance (time, maturity)between them and the incident that is allowing them an objective perspective of what occurred, and they are obviously horrified at it.
The mechila process is usually very cleansing for all those involved.
A kesiva vchasima tova!

JOE L. said...

Come on... Give them a break you were once young too and (probably) did some stupid things too.. The amazing thing in these stories is the "Hashgocho Protes". What I don't understand is don't atheists ever have these things happen to them or are they deaf dumb and blind?

"Tziporah" :) said...

I agree with Anonymous,
It's always important to ask a Rav whenever you’re in doubt. I have spoken to my Rav many times. It makes things so much easier to consult a Talmud chacham. If you do an action without the approval of a Rav, then you are responsible for its ramifications, however If you follow Daas Torah, then no matter what the outcome is, you know you did the right thing. Our Rabbanim know best. When in doubt, turn to Daas Torah for advice. It may not be easy to carry out the Pesak of your Rav, But a Rav is well versed in Torah, and is much wiser and more intelligent then we can ever be. It says (I don’t remember where) to follow in the words of your rabanim and not to sway right or left from what they tell you, even if they tell you that left is rite and rite is left. And Brochi….. I know you feel that they might not want it brought up, but you could very well be wrong. Please don’t procrastinate, please call your Rav. Please don’t do anything without his guidance. It is crucial to speak to your rav. He will guide you and make you feel so much better. Speak to your Rav, you will feel so relived, the burden of the guilt will feel so much lighter. A Rav is here to help you. Take advantage. By not speaking to a Rav you are only hurting yourself. It may be hard at first, but the end results will be worth it. Please, I beg of you. Ask a shayla. A.S.K- Always Seek Kedusha :) Do the right thing. No harm can come from asking a Rav. Try it… you will see that you will feel so much better.

Chaya said...

What if you don't have a rav? How does one go about "finding" a rav?

J.A.P. said...

commentor who is still trying to get in touch with me, this is my fax number, 718-887-0344. Make sure that you write ATTN Tzipi at the top so that it gets to me, (my husband is the only other person with access to it and he won't read it, I promise,) and leave your contact info there so that I can get back to you.

Brochi said...

i can't believe i did it. i realize now that when i first posted, subconsciously i expected sympathy for having to carry this secret all these years, instead i was urged to put down the burden and ask daas torah. i am so relieved i literally cried when i hung up with my rav, my husband's actually.he was so gentle and understanding. i have tremendous gratitude for this blog and "tziporah" and anon specifically, may it be a zchus for all of you. If you're curious i was told that i should not bring it up with my aunt and uncle and "i should daven to the Av Harachamim for mechilah." but pls every situation is different and a sheilah must be asked ea. time.
Gut Shabbos

"TZIPORAH" :) said...

Hi Brochi!!
Just wanted to tell you that i am sooooooo glad that you asked daas Torah!!!!!!!!! :) you just made my day!!!! Thank you so much J.A.P for having this blog- you get a huge zechus for helping all these people!!! This is an amazing story, and i am so happy that i had the zechus of being a shaleach to help you out Brochi!!! I wish you all the best for the future!!!!!!!!!!! :) Have a gr8 shabbos everyone!!!!

Anonymous said...

Brochi- this is the Anonymous that you gave you the suggestion.I just wanted to tell you KOL HAKOVOD and im sure you feel like a huge burden was lifted off ur shoulders...I wish you a beautiful year in all areas-and may you never have to relive this specific pain again... and thanks for ur bracha
*Hashem is always listening... and everything that happens is meant to happen because there is a Master plan and One in charge... a gut voch and a gut gebenchted yur

Anonymous said...

and ditto to everything tziporah said!

tzipi g. said...

yeah, i know my pseudonym is tzipi also, because my first name is extremely uncommon, and my middle name is tzipora.

but anyways... i think that those people asking mechila, even after all of those years, is still asking mechila. i recently had to ask mechila from a good friend of mine, about a specific incident that repeated itself many times, and it was very hard. yeah, she's my friend, but it is very very very hard to tell someone else that you did something wrong to her. all the more so, it must be even harder to ask mechila from someone that you are not friends with.

just something to think about.