The Dark Side of Forgiveness
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The Dark Side of Forgiveness

Martine Tartour is a contributor for the AJT.

Martine Tartour
Martine Tartour

The reason for her betrayal? It doesn’t matter. I grieved an adored friendship and that made me suffer enormously. She has been admitting her mistakes, trying many ways to repair it. Every Yom Kippur, she invites me to break the fast at her place. I’ve refused for six years. This October 10, I decided to accept her invitation. Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt, the French writer and philosopher wrote:

“Forgiveness is not a generous act; it is undoubtedly the most selfish of behaviors.” He is right! I want to be able to walk down her street without being afraid to meet her. I don’t want to feel jealous of her new friendships. I don’t want to watch her life unfold on Instagram anymore. I forgive to find my inner peace.

Mother and Son Forgiveness

Can a mother be angry with her son or not answer the phone when he calls? The opposite is possible. We are supposed to not blame their bad mood when we see them only twice a year, or when they find the worst excuse to not come for Pesach. For a mother, the cord is never broken. The toad’s mother will always love her toad baby, even the mother of the guilty finds excuses for her murderous son.  Well, knowing that, I got angry with my son when he needed me the most: on the eve of his wedding. “Easy to understand,” my therapist explained to me, “This time it was ME who needed to be selfish to let him be the man of another woman.” Once I admitted it was normal, I went to apologize. Of course, he opened his arms to me.

The Healing of Forgiveness

On the eve of Yom Kippur, we will be one month away from the events commemorating the 4th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Bataclan theatre in Paris .  My friend Ahmid lost his sister in that attack.  Djamila Houd was on the terrace of the theatre’s cafe celebrating her birthday when she was murdered.  When I was recently working on an article about forgiveness for the Jewish Times, I asked Ahmid:  “Can you ever forgive the terrorists?”  He reminded me of that wonderful letter written by Antoine Leiris just three days after the Bataclan attacks in which he addressed to the terrorists:  “You will not have my hatred.”  (Helen, his wife and the mother of his 17-month-old child, was among the victims).  “So no, I won’t give you the gift of hating you.  And yet while you did everything for just that reason, responding to hatred with anger would be to give in to the ignorance that made you what you are.” Like Leiris, my friend Ahmid chose to not let himself be overwhelmed by hatred.  And Ahmid admits that the right question to ask yourself is not, “Can we forgive?” but rather “Can we heal?”  Forgiveness means just that: the healing of the wounds of the heart.

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