“It’s like chametz,” Nissim said. “If you leave it unattended it sours the dough, but if you don’t let it take hold it never sinks in.”
“What’s that got to do with Mr. Halpern speaking to me that way?” Elie asked.
“When somebody hurts you or insults you, it’s a superficial blow that may be painful but it’ll disappear if you deal with it immediately,” Nissim explained. “If you let it fester, it’ll be very difficult to get rid of.”
“I see,” Elie said. “May I borrow your cell phone? I think a call to Mr. Halpern is in order — right away!”
The Chazon Ish taught that little insults, left unattended, develop into sinat chinam (Emunah U’Bitachon 1:14). Although there are usually circumstances that create an environment for dislike, the original source of the resulting “hate” is usually a very insignificant insult. Once a person realizes that s/he has hurt another, s/he should proceed to “fix” the hurt by communicating regret to the other person.
Rabbenu Yonah (Shaarei Teshuvah, 2:8) says that people were created with a psychological defense mechanism. They are prevented from making amends because they view themselves as people without faults. This imaginary perfection allows insignificant issues to fester and develop into big problems. In a business partnership, marriage, or any social interaction, many reach the brink of breakup before they deal with the real issues that place stress on their relationships.
The way to overcome this is by observation and introspection. If one is willing to face one’s shortcomings, one will be able to identify them and the corrective process can begin.
In your daily relationships, learn to apologize. The best time to start is right away.
One More Second: Another Thought for the Day
Only fools waste their present moments regretting what is over and done with. They constantly say, “If only I hadn’t gotten involved in this venture, I wouldn’t have suffered.” “If only I would have stayed an hour longer, this wouldn’t have happened.” We are not prophets and there is no possible way to know in advance exactly what will be. Try to protect yourself, but realize we can never plan for every possibility. (Cheshbon HaNefesh, no. 77)
Rabbi Raymond Beyda serves in the Sephardic Community in Brooklyn, N.Y. He lectures to audiences all over the world. He is author of the book 1 Minute With Yourself: A Minute a Day to Self-Improvement, Sephardic Press, 2008.