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Special Dvar for Yom Kippur 5774

Rabbi Abba (the scribe of the Zohar) once sat at the gateway of the Town of Lud, where he saw a traveler sit down on a pile of rocks at the edge of a mountain overlooking a cliff. The man was exhausted for his journey and immediately fell asleep. R. Abba watched this innocuous scene for a bit until to his dismay he watched as a deadly snake slithered out of the rocks making its way towards to the sleeping man (R. Abba, who for some reason was immobilized and transfixed by this unfolding drama), suddenly watched as a new turn of events happened. A giant lizard jumped out between the rocks and killed the serpent. R. Abba continued watching and saw that the man stood up and was perplexed to see a beheaded snake lying in front of him. He quickly gathered his possessions and rose to continue his journey. At that instant the pile of rocks he was sitting on collapsed and fell into the ravine below. The man was about to wander off when R. Abba ran after him and recounted everything he had witnessed. R. Abba asked the man, “My friend to what do you attribute all these miracles that just transpired?”

The traveler at first did not want to be bothered but felt the sincerity of R. Abba’s question and confided in him. “1) Throughout my life I have never let a person harm me, and where I did not pacify him; 2) Never have I gone to sleep without forgiving someone for hurting me in any way; 3) Anyone who would hurt me would I endeavor, with all my heart, to resolve whatever animosity was between us; 4) And lastly, I would go out of my way to perform acts of kindness for the person involved in the misunderstanding.”  When R. Abba heard this he burst into tears. This person’s actions were greater than Joseph, for Joseph had to deal with his brothers, who he was certainly going to forgive, while this man forgives anyone and everyone who has harmed him.

It’s up to us to forgive others, passively and actively, so that we may merit forgiveness of our own, and a prosperous and successful year to come.