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Get Past the Resentment

Get Past the Resentment

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Dear Reader,

I was taking a walk with a friend. As we approached a large house, she said abruptly: “Let’s cross the street!”

It turns out that my friend and her husband had had a business partnership with the homeowner. The partnership had soured; he had wronged and cheated my friend. The very mention of his name or walking by the home triggered in her a negative response. Despite her current business success, she cannot overcome her feelings of anger.

I understand her because I react similarly. Don’t we all harbor inside of us memories that elicit our strongest emotions against individuals who deceived or misled us?

In this week’s Torah portion, Joseph and his brothers return from burying their father, Jacob. Joseph stops at the pit that his brothers had thrown him into. His brothers become frightened, saying: “What if Joseph will hate us, and will pay us back the evil which we did to him?” (Gen. 50:15)

The brothers appeal to Joseph, cautioning him that his father had warned him not to take revenge.

Jacob, in fact, had never done so; he would not suspect Joseph of revenge. Nor did Joseph ever intend for vengeance. He made a detour at the pit—not to reignite negative memories, but to have the opportunity to recite the blessing we are commanded to say at a place where a miracle was performed for us. (Midrash Tanchuma)

Joseph weeps that his brothers had suspected him of such behavior. He reassures them: “Don't be afraid. Am I instead of G‑d? You intended evil but G‑d meant it for good . . . ” (Gen. 50: 19-20)

How was Joseph able to get past his suffering without harboring any grudge against his brothers?

On the day his brothers sold him as a slave, Joseph had been a vulnerable teenager. His comfortable life as his father’s beloved son was changed forever. His brothers had acted callously and cruelly. But as far as Joseph was concerned, that was something between them and G‑d. What happened to him—being sold as a slave, descending to Egypt, becoming Pharaoh’s viceroy and, ultimately, saving his family from famine—was all G‑d’s grand plan.

Joseph reached an awareness that G‑d is in control of everything; therefore, his brothers had done nothing to him outside of G‑d’s design.

Too many of us hold on to what feels like justifiable resentment. In truth, the resentment only perpetuates and prolongs our own hurt.

Joseph teaches us how to get past this: Surrender to the knowledge that all that happens to you is part of G‑d’s benevolent plan. The individual that wounded you may have intended evil, but that is between that individual and G‑d. As far as you’re concerned, your life is following the exact script that G‑d wants for you.

This realization helps us begin to rid ourselves of the heavy burden of anger, resentment and hate. It also allows us to open ourselves up to receive the good that G‑d has in store for us.

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW


Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Chana California December 31, 2017

This article does a great job in helping people overcome resentment in fairly minor issues, tho these issues are painful and hurt deeply. It is our pride and our ego from our animal nature that resents the hurt and hates the evil doer. But, take for example a woman who has been raped and maybe sold as a sex slave at a young age, or the tortured victims of the Holucaust. How do these people manage to survive? Can we honestly say it was God's will - His divine providence? I do not think so. But, I do believe this - that Hashem's loving kindness and mercy can bring deliverance. Emotional deliverance and heart healing, but it may take a lifetime. And it takes the damaged hearts willingness to cling too and cry out to God. In that willingness to submit to The Creator and Source of light and life, a certain measure of forgiveness can be found releasing the soul, but never at the cost of saying what happened was ok. We need to be very careful in our judgments. Reply

Michele Bisnott Jamaica December 31, 2017

Thank you, so much! G-d knows I needed to read this! So liberating! Thanks again! Shalom! Reply

Cena Louise Glass Akron December 29, 2017

I recently was in a car accident by a faulty mechanic. My brakes were paid to be fixed, but because the lines and computer SIM card were not connected they did not work. The front brakes went and I hit a pole. I survived with a broken foot and totaled auto. God had a reason for it, and eventually I will go back to work in his timing. Reply

Anonymous USA December 27, 2017

Dazed How about being clobbered with virulent antisemitism, ageism and race simultaneously in a practicum? Reporting the events with the appropriate powers were met with apathy or hostility. The college did nothing. Dazed, I looked into the Igros for some direction and calm. My answer gave me relief of sorts. It guided me to a totally different direction. I then saw the wisdom of HaShem through the Rebbe's Igros. I was no longer tormented by ugly events I had experienced, b"h. I was finally able to move on. Reply

Anonymous scott December 27, 2017

This was what I needed to hear. AMIEN! Reply

Simcha Bart January 23, 2017

How to "deal" with the terrible tragedy of the Holocaust - this is a lesson we can also derive from Joseph, let go and move forward. As the article above states resentment only holds us back. This is why Holocaust survivors went on to build families as well as Jewish life and institutions. As far as an answer for suffering, even Moses couldn't comprehend the terrible suffering of the Jewish people in Egypt that he asked G-d "Why have You harmed this people?" G-d didn't answer Moses - to teach us not to be complacent when people suffer. For more on this topic please see www.chabad.org/108398

Simcha Bart for Chabad.org Reply

M. Diane Flushing, NY January 22, 2017

Hi Leo One can get over-tired. How many times are we expected to be able to get back up, dust ourselves off and keep going after taking big hits? Seven? Eight times? So, i suppose there is a limit. Please see if there is someone you can speak with just to get a sense of whether, considering the particulars of what you are going through, it is spiritually healthy to keep getting up and climbing back in the ring for another round. Good luck. I'll be praying for your energy level to rise and for less weariness. (That seems like two different things to me). Reply

Leo January 21, 2017

To M.Diane. Thank you for your comment. Though I never thought any service as degrading, I have come to the thought that always being there may perhaps be my calling. But I am so tired. Reply

Rajiv R India January 21, 2017

Shalom! Thanks Ruth! Namaste :-) Reply

M. Diane Flushing, NY January 19, 2017

For Leo - About service B"H. Leo, I am sorry about the injustice and hurt you have suffered. You suggest that G-d's intention for you may be that you serve (voluntarily) as a slave to everyone. You sound disappointed. Maybe you don't mean 'slave.' A slave requires a master who accepts him as such. Simply offering to be or acting as one is not enough. A good slave is strong, proud, and determined to serve well, better and better. A great master cherishes his slave recognizes and appreciates dedication, quality effort and service. It could be a beautiful relationship if the service is given and the gift of service is received in the right spirit where both believe G-d intended the relationship because of special gifts and qualities each has and the needs of each. If one repeatedly finds himself serving others, service might be his calling. If he thinks it's degrading that may be due to his point of view or comparing it to involuntary slavery; but, earthly master and slave are under the One Heavenly Master. Reply

CS Silberberg January 19, 2017

How,for example,could someone being murdered be for that person's good? Maybe sometimes God just allows collateral damage? It was decreed on Rosh Hashannah and sealed on Yom Kippur that this person would die at this exact moment. That was G-d's plan; there were countless ways that it could happen. And the person who deliberately chooses to commit a murder is guilty of an awful sin for which he will ultimately need to pay. Big time.
Does G-d simply allow "collateral damage"? Absolutely not. When the True Judge acts, there is no collateral damage; all is precisely calibrated. G-d carefully orchestrates and takes into account the impact of the tragedy on every last person who is affected by the tragedy – from his widow, children and extended family, to neighbors and co-workers, the guys in the gym with whom he exercised, the grocery store where he shops, the newsstand where he bought his daily paper, his children’s teachers and friends, random strangers who hear of the tragedy and sigh or shed a tear. When G-d throws a stone into a pond, even the farthest, slightest ripple is exactly calculated. Reply

CS Silberberg January 19, 2017

"When others do malevolent things to us, how can it be part of the reckoning for which they need to account to Hashem AND part of his plan for [us] at the same time? Let’s say a drunk driver crashed into my car and totaled it. I need to understand that I was supposed to lose my car and have the pain of being in a car accident. That was Hashem’s plan for me. Our rabbis teach that "G-d has many messengers." It could have happened in many ways: a deer crashed into my car; I skidded into a tree, was in an earthquake or an avalanche, etc. Furthermore, the drunk could have driven down another street and hit someone. Or just driven his own car into a tree. The fact that he came down MY street and hit MY car, means that this damage was meant to come to me. The drunk driver, however, made a free-willed choice to drink and drive. Therefore he is responsible for his actions and guilty for all the damages that he caused. He cannot claim that he was merely G-d’s agent and therefore not liable, because we see that 1. he chose to act in a way that was wrong and 2. as noted, G-d was perfectly capable of having His plan fulfilled without the drunk. Reply

CS Silberberg WB Michigan January 19, 2017

How could the brothers, great tszadichs (sic)...have done this horrible thing to him?”
Many explanations have been offered for this behavior. In particular, we are taught that they felt Joseph was trying to displace them as Jacob’s spiritual heir, similar to the way Isaac had displaced Ishmael and Jacob had displaced Esau. Joseph, they believed, was a “rodef”-“pursuer”; they convened a bais din (Jewish court of law) and judged that they had the right to defend themselves against his “evil machinations.” So sure were they that their actions were correct that, when they needed a minyan to declare an excommunication on whoever would reveal their secret, they included G-d as the tenth “man.” Reply

Leo January 15, 2017

With the hurt and injustice afflicted me, I do not know what G-D wants ms to do or be other than a slave to everyone Reply

Howard Wright Jacksonvilel, Al. January 14, 2017

Thank you, sometimes we forget that fact that the great I AM, is always with us and His plans, are beyond ours and always for our best path in life and we can trust Him no matter what.Trust and know the He love us. Reply

Michele Bisnott December 31, 2017
in response to Howard Wright:

Well said! Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, nma January 13, 2017

the Pre Script in a Prescription for LOVE We are known as The People of The Book. On our Day of Atonement we ask to be written in the Book of Life for another year. And I think this must be, The Book also, all sew, of LOVE, as in what knits together in all this must be, something deeper, wider, more wonderful than we are at times gifted to see. We walk in darkness, but must remember the stars in that magnificent night. I am being taken quite visibly through a Story that is entirely visibly synchronous, and is deeply about words. As it is said, to meditate on a Hebrew letter is to see a rising Creation. Since no one, seems to be following what I am writing, heart and soul down the lines, and since it is a fact, because I could easily now step out of the picture, as this is how visibly synchronous this must be, involving everyone, I can say, it's all G_D. And I can say, the word namaste, having within it, name, is saying something very deep about One. And wonder is about this, as there is in our English this aurally consonance. Reply

Rajiv R India January 12, 2017

Over a coffee! Shalom! am on the Noahide path so plz forgive if i stray: Joseph survived as he had possibly near or ditto Moshiach-like qualities. Blessed to some very high degree. We the people ain't. I truly feel with all the comments/insights oneness. i too have a real issue with my elder bro. From whence it came, i dont know. With Joseph & bros, if things went to the nth degree (last thing just short of murder), i reckon its there in all human relations to some degree. ofcourse to me my bro feels like Ishmael and Esau and even Abraham's bro all rolled into one; and i ofcourse the good guy: A bit of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, all rolled into one. No...surely this isnt so. Thank Chana for pointing the way...i follow - The para ' Joseph points us toward the way around endless negativity. Life and living and existence is a matter between each individual and HaShem, Blessed be His Name, and not primarily between human and human. One to one. Thank you. Reply

Livingstone USA January 12, 2017

Response to Debora from Barganca There is noting the Holy One asks of us that He Himself does not undergo... He all day long holds out His hand to a stubborn and stiff necked people as all of us can be at times... He suffers at the loss of belief in people hearts that He IS... He is NOT taken at His word... Yet continues to guide us and send good to us. "Holding G-D responsible?" No beloved, rather He being a good and brilliant Father knows exactly what we need to be formed and made to be more like HIM. He only has our spiritual wellbeing in mind... So therefore our good. One thing G-D NEVER does is take the gift of our freewill from us... or from others. He longs for us to trust in Him and draw near... by faith. So it's a relationship of trust and love not a robotic response... against our own freewill. It is IN our hardships and sufferings that we are given the choice to choose how we will endure, overcome and grow or give up and die off. May it be that we choose the example of Joseph... everyday. Reply

Anonymous January 11, 2017

Right on. Helpful reminder. Reply

Débora Bragança January 11, 2017

So we are to hold G-d responsible for letting evil people do evil to us.. after all G-d does control everything. Reply

Often we need a break from our daily routine. A pause from life to help us appreciate life.

A little pat on the back to let us know when we're on track. A word of encouragement to help us through those bleak moments and difficult days.

Sometimes, we just yearn for some friendship and camaraderie, someone to share our heart with. And sometimes we need a little direction from someone who's been there.

So, take a short pause from the busyness of your day and join Chana Weisberg for a cup of coffee.

Chana Weisberg is the author of Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman and four other books. Weisberg is a noted educator and columnist and lectures worldwide on issues relating to women, faith, relationships and the Jewish soul.
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