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Is Guilt Good?

Is Guilt Good?

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Question:

I had an abortion many years ago. I did it to avoid shame, but instead I am riddled with guilt. I know that I can't reverse what I have done, but is there some way to alleviate my burden? Or must I resign myself to carrying the guilt with me all my life?

Answer:

Guilt is to the soul what pain is to the body. Pain itself is not a good thing, but it does serve a purpose. It alerts you that there is something amiss that requires corrective action.

Guilt is to the soul what pain is to the body Guilt serves a purpose too. To allow guilt to eat away at us is pointless. Rather, guilt is there to be used as a catalyst for improvement and becoming a better person. We must recognize the mistakes we make, take responsibility for them and not blame others - even if others were partially to blame - and then resolve to be better for the experience. We must turn around the negative feelings, so they can propel us to do more good.

In the case of someone who wrongly had an abortion, perhaps one way to channel the guilt into positivity would be to take on a project that will specifically benefit unwanted or abandoned children. The ultimate would be to actually adopt such a child, but that is not always possible. Here are some other suggestions: volunteer time and donate money to an orphanage; become a "big sister" to a child that needs extra support; or help out a friend or family member who is bringing up their children in difficult circumstances, such as a single mother or someone battling serious illness.

Guilt creates a void in our soul. Fill that void with something meaningful. Redirect your energy towards a new venture that will benefit someone in need. That way you don't merely alleviate the guilt--you actually transform it into an impetus for good.

You can't bring back the potential life that was lost. But you can reclaim your own potential. Don't let guilt paralyze you. Ask G‑d to forgive you. Then turn your guilt around, and use it as a springboard for positive action. Make what was a negative chapter in your life into the introduction to the next chapter, a chapter focused on love and life.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
Artwork by David Brook. David lives in Sydney, Australia, and has been selling his art since he was in high school. He is currently painting and doing web illustrations. To view or purchase David’s art, please visit davidasherbrook.com.
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Discussion (22)
April 27, 2016
Guilt is something I struggle with. Even after I'm forgiven I can't forgive myself. Thank you for your insightful words.
LC
Fl
September 9, 2010
thank you
I have struggled with the guilt of this for soo long. I thank you for these healing words that soothe my soul. The pain is sometimes more than I can bear... but I feel God's Love beside me each day. I felt HIM speak to me as I read your words and the support and love in the comments of persons here. I will check out EFRAT and I know one day I will adopt a child - maybe 2 - since I have no children and am now 40. I will not let my mistake be in vain. Thanks be to God.
Rachel
plantation, FL/USA
June 29, 2010
thank you for sharing your question
First of all, thank you for sharing your question, reading it has reminded me of a similar situation of a loved one. There are many examples that show G-d in partnership with the wounded soul, a negative into a positive outcome, May G-d turn your experience though painful, into a new opportunity & lead you to reclaim your potential & purpose.
Shalom!
Mario A-B
Hadspen, Australia
August 21, 2009
guilt
Bravo!!! What great advice!!
Java Levy
Guatemala, Guatemala
August 4, 2009
wow
I really loved your article, namely because it once again shows how beautiful our tradition it is, in that it teaches us how we can take a seemingly negative situation and bring out the positive. It was a very uplifting article.
duby
Morristown
August 3, 2009
Guilt
I opened this and it was as if it was written for me in the first place. I thank you so much for shedding light on my path. Now I see clearly. Thanks again.
Anonymous
los angeles
August 2, 2009
reversing the guilt
I immediately thought of the EFRAT organisation in Israel, where for a thousand dollars they are able to reverse OTHER women's decisions to abort by helping them financially.And may she be freed of her burden
chana
givat Zeev, israel
August 2, 2009
Donate to Efrat
There is an organization in Israel called Efrat that provides money and initial baby items (strollers, cribes etc) to mothers who wanted to abort pregnancies due to economic difficulties. They have saved tens of thousands of Jewish souls. See their web site. This is definately an apporpriate organization to donate to.
Anonymous
Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel
August 1, 2009
I had contemplated having an abortion, such a hard choice for one to make. I decided to keep G-d's blessing. My partner is Jewish (i am not) and he left us 10 months after our little girl was born, because he realized that he was not ready for a baby?? i am deeply hurt by his actions, It has not been easy since he left, But i know G-d loves and is looking over me and my sweet girl everyday, but sometimes i think i did not make the right choice, as being a single mother is not the life i wanted for my child!
I think maybe i am being punished in some way?? but i cant live in in the guilt! thinking that we we're not good enough for him to stay with us.
Don't live with guilt, it just eats away at your soul, just know you did what was right for you at the time, that was the choice you made, ask g-d to forgive you, he will. He knows how sorry you are.. He is great, i know he is!
Anonymous
July 31, 2009
Is Guilt Good by Aron Moss
Guilt is good and creative only when we/I sincerely repent, surrender to G-d and work hard for the compensation for the harm done to other.Without compensation repentance is incomplete. One should not be afraid of repenting because it is a total surrender to Almighty/to His Laws so that we/I can start a new life a renewed life to be a part of His creations and not a problem.
Hariprasad Bhusal
Titwala-East, Maharastra,India