No matter how angry we get, we should try to leave room in our hearts to be willing to forgive. In this week's portion, even though the people's wrong behavior angered God very much, He listened to Moses' plea to forgive them (14:20). When we forgive others we also behave in a Godly way.
In our story, a kid finds out how far forgiving can go.
PICKING UP THE PIECES
"Give back my Gameboy!" Debby roared as she chased her cousin, Steve, across the carpet of their grandparents' living room.
"No way!" laughed Steve, managing to stay a step ahead of her. "I'm playing now and that's it."
"If you don't give it back right now I'll … I'll never forgive you! Do you hear me - NEVER!" With that, Debby grabbed a big throw pillow off grandma's couch and flung it desperately at the boy.
While the pillow missed Steve by a mile, it did manage to knock down and smash to smithereens the beautiful antique porcelain vase that Grandma had told Debby had belonged to her own grandmother. It was one of the most cherished possessions she owned!
In shock, the Gameboy long forgotten, Debby raced like a scared rabbit up the stairs and into the guestroom where she'd been staying, slamming the door behind her.
What a disaster! She thought to herself, breathing hard. Grandma is NEVER going to forgive me for smashing her vase - and who could blame her? I'd certainly never forgive someone who did that to me. In fact, she'll probably never even want to talk to me again ... or even want me to be her granddaughter...
Fortunately, her grandma was out shopping. So not knowing what else to do, Debby quickly packed up the small suitcase she'd just unpacked for what was supposed to be a long-weekend sleepover visit. She'd catch the first train back home ... anything other than having to face Grandma, and her shame at the unforgivable she'd done.
She wrote a short note telling her grandmother why she was leaving, how sorry she was, and how she expected never to be forgiven. She placed it on the coffee table where the vase used to be and ran up to get her suitcase.
She scurried back downstairs, suitcase in hand, turning her head to see her cousin giving her a strange look, then nearly bumped straight into her grandma who had just come home and was holding her note in her hand!
"I ... um ... I'm so sorry." Debby managed to stutter.
"I'm sorry too," said Grandma sadly, shaking her head. "I'm sorry that the vase is broken. But I'm even more sorry that my own grandchild could think that I don't love her enough to ever forgive her."
Seeing Debby's puzzled look, the woman curled her lips into a gentle smile. "This vase has been so precious to me because it reminds me of my own Grandmamma - how sweet she was, how she loved us and how no matter how big of a mistake I made she always had room in her heart to forgive me. Her lessons in how to forgive are something she passed onto me that is even more valuable than the rarest antique."
"So ... you mean you forgive me?"
"Of course I do, Debby. You shouldn't have been playing like that in here - and neither should have you, young man," she said, pointing to Steve. "And you'll both help me clean up this mess ... but yes, I forgive you and I hope that if one day your granddaughter does something that seems 'unforgivable' you'll forgive her too."
Debby felt like a huge rock on her chest had just turned into a cloud. As she passed Steve to get the dustpan, he held out the Gameboy to give back to her.
"Sorry," he muttered.
"I do forgive you for taking it," Debby sighed with a smile "but could you please just ask next time?"
Q. How did Debby feel when she first broke the vase?
A. She felt like her Grandma would never forgive her.
Q. How did she feel in the end?
A. She was so relieved her Grandma forgave her and Debby also became more forgiving herself.
Q. What life-lesson do you think Debby learned that day?
A. Her attitude was to be unforgiving when people did her wrong. After seeing how forgiving her Grandma was and how it was a good family trait, she learned to be more forgiving, too.
Q. If someone purposely does something bad to us because he knows we'll forgive him - should we forgive him still?
A. In such a case someone is taking unfair advantage of our forgiving nature and we needn't forgive him until he becomes more sincere.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Does forgiving someone who hurt us mean what he did to us was okay?
A. No. If what he did was wrong, it remains wrong and he will have eventually have to face the consequences one way or another. Forgiving means that we recognize that humans make mistakes and can validate them as people, without validating their improper actions.
Q. Do you think a person can truly forgive without 'forgetting'?
A. It depends what we mean by forgetting. While we may always mentally remember the event that happened, if we can't let it go and accept that on some deep, hidden level it was what G-d wanted and therefore will ultimately be for the best, we haven't truly forgiven.