It begins as a misunderstanding, then, an argument follows. The argument becomes a confrontation and by week’s end, a former friend is now counted a foe.
The chasm is daunting—the feud—seemingly, irreparable. Days go by, months perhaps, even years.
But in the heart, there is some regret. There is a seed of doubt, a specter of apology, but the past holds us. In the parched earth of anger, there is no place for it to grow.
In this week’s Parashah, Ki Tavoh, there is an extraordinary commandment. “You shall not see the donkey of your brother or his ox fallen on the road and hide yourself from them; but you shall surely stand them up, with him.” (Deuteronomy 22.4)
Every so often, a door opens, a way out of hostility and bitterness. My enemy’s donkey, laden with a thousand slights, lays fallen on the road. Naturally, one hesitates. It seems better to hide, to pretend not to see. ‘Why should I trouble myself, for one who has caused me such grief?’But buried in your enemy’s heart, though laden with hurt, there also contains a seed of regret.
So you walk over, and together, with your enemy, you unload the beast of burden.
It is so rare to be given such an opportunity. If it comes, don’t let it go to waste.
By Rabbi Yehuda (not Aliza) Hausman