A crucial part of respecting people is to forgive them. If every time you look at someone, it makes your blood boil, it’s a bit difficult to relate to them as another person created in the image of G-d.
And the essential part of forgiving someone? The knowledge that everything is from G-d. That everything was planned from above, and that it will all be good. That everyone else also has their faults and shortcomings, and that they are also working to improve.
The first part of the bedtime Shema is a special prayer. In it, we forgive people who have done bad to us, and ask that G-d forgive us as well. Sounds easy?
No way! I have a long memory, and sometimes people can be just, well, aggravating.
Let me walk you through what I do to help myself. It involves taking it slowly, and lots of deep breaths. I find it helpful to memorize the text, so that I can say it slowly without losing my place, but it’s up to you. If you do that, though, you will want to check the text every now and then to make sure you have all the words right.
Ok- cautionary measures out of the way- here we go! Some siddurim may have slightly different texts, or put the tefilah in other places, but it’s more or less the same. I’m using the one in the back of my Artscroll tehillim.
רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם – Master of the universe
הֲרֵֽינִי מוֹחֵל לְכָל-מִי – Here, I forgive everyone
שֶׁהִכְעִיס וְהִקְנִיט אוֹתִי – Who has angered or antagonised me
(Ok, that is a big one, but you don’t have to do it yet. You’re just stating your intentions)
אוֹ שֶׁחָטָא כְּנֶגְדִּי– Or who sinned against me
(Hashem is dealing with it)
בֵּין בְּגוּפִי -On my body
(?Ok, he hit me first. But it’s already fading. Do I really have to remember it)
בֵּין בְּמָמוֹנִי – Or with my money
(.G-d decides how much money I have. This was meant to happen)
בֵּין בִּכְבוֹדִי – Or with my honour
(.Honour is also up to G-d)
בֵּין בְּכָל אֲשֶׁר לִי – With everything I have
(No property is worth losing one’s self-control over)
בֵּין בְּאֹֽנֶס – By accident
(I make mistakes, too. I would want to be forgiven. No matter how bad it was, it wasn’t intentional)
בֵּין בְּרָצוֹן- Or on purpose
( .He was mad, ok. Do I also have to get mad? G-d doesn’t let things happen without a reason)
בֵּין בְּשׁוֹגֵג – Through carelessness
(.I’m sure she didn’t realize how awful that was)
בֵּין בְּמֵזִיד – Or by intention
(Do I have to let what she did hurt me tomorrow, too? I’ll just forget about it, and not bring today’s hurts onto a fresh day)
בֵּין בְּדִבּוּר – By speech
(.That was nasty, wasn’t it? But I’m giving him another chance)
בֵּין בְּמַעֲשֶׂה – Or by action
(So he tripped me. So what? Do I have to be angry about it forever? Maybe he’ll be nice tomorrow, but if I think about this too much, I’ll never allow it to happen)
בֵּין בְּגִלְגּוּל – In this lifetime
זֶה בֵּין בְּגִלְגּוּל אַחֵר – Or in another lifetime
(This one is a really difficult concept to grasp, but I try to think about it in two ways. One- if I can’t remember what happened, I have nothing to be mad about. Two- even the worst thing imaginable isn’t worth holding back the geulah.)
לְכָל-בֶּן-אָדָם וְלֹא יֵעָנֵשׁ שׁוּם אָדָם בְּסִיבָּתִי – Let no one be punished because of me
(Because even if I’m upset, I don’t want to be the cause of someone else’s punishment)
: יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ – Let it be your will-
ה’ אֱלֹקַי וְאֱלֹקֵי אֲבוֹתַי G-d
שֶׁלֹא אֶחֱטָא עוֹד– ,That I will not sin any more
וּמָה שֶּׁחָטָֽאתִי לְפָנֶֽיךָ – And that which I have done wrong before you
(Yes, even I can make mistakes)
מְחֹק בְּרַחֲמֶיךָ הָרַבִּים – You will forgive with great mercy
(Just like I forgave everyone else)
אֲבָל לֹא עַל-יְדֵי יִסוּרִים וְחֳלָיִם רָעִים – But not through sickness or suffering
יִהְיוּ לְרָצוֹן אִמְרֵי פִי וְהֶגְיוֹן לִבִּי לְפָנֶיךָ, ה’ צוּרִי וְגֹאֲלִי:
(This beautiful pasuk starts and ends many prayers, but there really isn’t a good English translation for it. If you manage to come up with one, please let me know!)
This prayer has Hashem’s name, so if you print it out, don’t discard it. Give it to your rabbi to bury it.
Now, let me tell you, it’s not easy. Sometimes, I can just say ‘Ok, my sister kicked me, and I got yelled at, and my mother asked me to watch my brother for five minutes and it turned into half an hour, and my brother spilled water all over my plate, and someone finished the last of the thing I wanted to eat etc., but it really doesn’t matter, and I’ll start tomorrow with a clean slate. Let’s get rid of these old hurts….’ And it works fine.
But sometimes, it’s more like, ‘My sister kicked me- and it really hurts. And I got yelled at in public, and I’m still so embarrassed, and why do my brothers treat me like I’m garbage?’ and I just want to hold it in, and not forgive. It does take a lot of time and effort. Sometimes, when I run through the day, I can only forgive a few things, but I try. I remind myself that these are all part of G-d’s plan; this is just a test and that I’ll have a much better chance of having a good day tomorrow, if I stop crying and get some sleep!
Sorry this went on so long. I hope you give this a try– it really does work wonders if you keep it up. Good luck!
P.S. I was going to write something like this article myself, but I think the author did a much better job than me. Please read this– and remember it. We want to learn from what happened, so that we bring Moshiach rather than have it happen again.