I know someone who was a victim of medical negligence. He was misdiagnosed and mistreated. His first complaint could have been easily resolved, but the doctor didn’t pick up on some obvious symptoms. By the time the scope of the problem became apparent, it was too late. The man spent years with impaired mobility and almost constant pain.

PeopleHe was misdiagnosed and mistreated advised him to sue. It would likely be an open and shut case; his doctor’s malpractice insurance would cover the damage, and he would be left with a comfortable nest egg to compensate for his pain and suffering. Only one person disagreed. The injured man had a longstanding relationship with a renowned rebbe, and just before initiating the lawsuit, he asked his mentor’s advice and blessing.

“Don’t do it,” the Rebbe said. “Just drop the case and move on with your life.” In a supreme act of faith, he took the advice and dropped the suit. He put aside his anger and concentrated his energies on his family and religion. He started a successful business and became a mentor for others. He lived a full and enriching life.

No one will ever know what would have happened had he not received that timely advice; however, we can speculate about why his Rebbe advised him not to proceed with the case.

Once a lawsuit is initiated, many people find it difficult to climb off the litigation wagon. To win a major payoff, they are often forced to traipse around from doctor to doctor, reliving the agony over and over again. It becomes in their best interests to prove their incapacitation and to demonstrate the permanence of their pain. For many litigants, the injury becomes their identity, and the litigation takes over their lives.

I am not criticizing those who do sue for redress from pain and suffering. Obviously there are cases where litigation is the only way to get the funds needed for recovery or loss of income. But I am absolutely convinced that in this man’s case, dropping the suit and moving on with his life was the correct decision.

IThe injury becomes their identity see a similar phenomenon when counseling people consumed with anger or other negative emotions. People will often nurse a grudge for years, reliving the fight with their sister, replaying the moment they realized their business partner had robbed them, or railing at the way their parents ruined their childhood. These people can’t go on; they are tied to the hatred, unable to begin the healing process.

When the Torah tells us, “Do not hate your brother in your heart,1 it is often read as an act that one does for another. Don’t hate other people because it’s bad for them to be hated. But I would suggest that this mitzvah is for you. Don’t‎ hate your brother because it’s unhealthy for you to hate.

Don’t nurse a grievance because anger is inherently destructive. Carrying the black pit of hate inside will lead only to internal ulcers. When you make the decision to abandon your rage, no matter how justified, you exercise self-control and own your own emotions.

Don’t destroy your children’s lives because of the way your parents mistreated you. Are you going to let the con-man who cheated you once rob you of your peace of mind forever?

The Torah gives us a prescription for living: concentrate on that which you can control, not on the sins of others. Don’t get mad, get G‑dly. Don’t get bogged down in the sins of the past. Pick yourself up out of the pit of anger and despair, and walk on into the light.