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Over the years I have shared the story with my kids and friends about an act of lashon hara (gossip) that ruined lifelong friendships and impacted family relationships.
I had a relationship with Person A and B and at some point I had a falling out with Person B. In the days before email Person B sent a 3 page letter all about me and how bad I am to person A or so she thought. However she accidentally sent the letter to me. I opened the letter and it was addressed to person A. I read all the terrible things about me, I copied the letter and sent it back to Person B, a copy to Person A and to my parents who were connected to Person B. Basically it ruined lifelong friendships and strained family ties for many years.
Fast forward, last week Gavin and I were discussing something from the past and Person A's name came up. As a result I was thinking about Person A and her family. She really was on my mind. Gavin calls me his favorite witch because it often happens when I think about people I see them or dream about something and it happens.
On Shabbat we were walking back from friends and we bumped into Person A. I had not had contact with Person A for 16 years and she had since moved to NY. We had a great 1hr long chat on the street.
I was overwhelmed given that she had been so intensely on my mind and there she was. More so the letter incident was so insignificant. I wondered how different things would have been if I tore up the letter and never told anyone, swallowed my pain and pride and how many relationships would be different today.
Later when I saw my kids I told them how I ran into person A in the letter story. I shared with them how good it was to see her and the letter meant nothing all these years later. I also ask them to think how if each person in the story had acted differently how the outcomes could have been different.
Our Rabbi in South Africa used to say people spend so much time proving that they are right they forget to be happy. we are so often fixated on the issues that we don't see the bigger picture. Certainly for me hese words ring true....