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Angry at a friend – Stop Talking to her?

Dec 17th, 2008 by yrobkin | 0

Dear Rabbi Yogi,

A friend of mine recently did something that incredibly embarrassed me in public. I left feeling humiliated, and find myself weeks later still angry at my friend for never apologizing for her misdeed. Until now I have opted to cease talking with this friend, but felt the need to write you to ask what the Torah has to say about situations such as mine.

Thank you,

Jessica G.

Dear Jessica,

I think you are smart for not talking with your friend in the immediate days after your embarrassing episode, as you were probably at the peak of your angry feelings, and would not have been able to express yourself to your friend in a way that would do anything but exacerbate your already difficult situation. However, if you are planning on never speaking with her again, this is certainly counter the Torah teachings. Let me share with you a profound verse in the Torah!

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall rebuke your fellow and you shall not bear a sin because of him” (Vayikra 19:17). The Ramban, Nachmanidies, in his second explanation of this verse comments that although the verse seems to be expressing a few disjointed teachings, in reality they are all connected. The central theme of this verse is the mitzvah to not hate your fellow. Well, that sounds all nice and spiritual, but the realities of life seem to make this mitzva an impossible feat. When someone hurts you, whether physically or emotionally, it is completely natural to feel anger or even hatred towards them! Addressing this issue, the verse continues with the antidote: “you shall rebuke your fellow”. The Torah is teaching us that you cannot fully get rid of the anger towards your friend until you openly discuss your feelings about the hurtful episode with her. Ramban notes that when you rebuke your friend for their misdeed two things will most likely happen. Either your friend will apologize for her mistake, or she will explain her actions to you from her perspective and understanding of the events. Whichever way your friend responds (apology or explanation) those deep feelings of hatred tend to quickly dissipate, and seeds of understanding and renewed love seep in. Open you heart and share your words with your friend so that “you shall not bear a sin because of him”. Which sin? The sin of hating your fellow!

It is amazing to hear of stories where one family member refuses to speak to another family member because of a hurtful experience that occurred ten years prior. Many times a simple heart to heart chat could have saved years and years of pent up frustrations and severed relationships. In the end of it all, the one who suffers the most by not talking openly with the person who hurt them is the victim herself. We carry the baggage of damaged relationships and hurt feelings for a lifetime – and it weighs down on us! Go and speak to your friend now. But remember to not point fingers at them in a mean way. Tell them how you experienced the events in your mind and how you felt as a result. Chances are that times haven’t changed too much from the days of Nachmanidies, and you will have created the necessary space to let go of hatred and recreate your relationship with your friend.

Let me know how it goes! Sincerely,

Rabbi Yogi

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