“I had reasons and never intended to hurt you”
In honor of Rav Pam, whose 22nd yahrtzeit is 28 Av
It was over 40 years ago, yet I recall the incident as if it was yesterday.
I am sitting across from Rav Pam ztz”l, and I could not contain my feelings of hurt and resentment.
“But Rebbi, why didn’t he come to my chasunah?” I asked for the third time. Shloimke Furman*, who I considered a very close friend, was a no-show at my chasunah. When I asked why he wasn’t coming, he responded, “I’m sorry. I can’t make it. I have a conflict.”
That was it.
Now, four months later, try as I might, I couldn’t get rid of my hurt and resentment.
Rav Pam looked at me with his soft and understanding eyes. He listened as I poured out my heart.
“Tell me something. You are now married four months, correct?”
“Did it ever happen that your wife called and asked what would you like for dinner?”
I nodded again.
“And did it ever happen you answered that you would enjoy a fleishig supper, and when you arrived home, she had prepared milchigs?”
How did he know that’s what happened tonight at dinner?!
“And how did you react? Are you resentful of your wife?”
“Oh no, not at all.”
“Do you think she did it to hurt you?”
“Of course not! I’m sure she had a good reason for switching. She would never do anything to hurt me.”
Rav Pam smiled. “I think you understand. Just replace your wife with your friend. I’m sure he had his reasons and never intended to hurt you.”
I thanked Rav Pam and left with a (somewhat) lighter heart.
Fast forward 41 years.
It’s August, and I am with my wife at the Kosel.
Someone taps me on the shoulder, I turn.
I am face to face with Shloimke Furman.
He has aged; however, his voice is the same. He is also with his wife.
He asks, “How are you? Don’t you have your anniversary coming up? I remember you got married in Elul.”
The next words exploded from my mouth as if they had been waiting to be said for over 40 years.
“How would you know? You weren’t there!”
I regretted the words the moment they left my mouth.
Shloimke was hurt. I was hurt. Our wives were embarrassed.
We said our goodbyes and headed in our separate directions.
The next morning as I was returning from Shacharis at the Kosel, Shloimke Furman was waiting for me.
“Can I speak to you for a moment?”
We found a quiet spot on a bench. The cool Yerushalayim breeze felt wonderfully refreshing.
“I see you’re still upset about my missing your chasunah 41 years ago. I had just begun a new yeshivah zeman and felt I couldn’t afford to miss seder during Elul.”
“Other friends came. Somehow they managed to take off. Why couldn’t you?”
“I’m not trying to convince you that I was right. I just want you to know that I had reasons and never intended to hurt you.”
As those words — “I had reasons and never intended to hurt you” — rolled off his tongue, I was no longer in Yerushalayim of Eretz Yisrael, and it was no longer 2023.
I was transported to Yerushalayim of Kensington at 425 East 9th Street, and the year was 1982.
I am sitting with Rav Pam as he reminds me for the umpteenth time, “I am sure he had reasons, and he never intended to hurt you.”
I return to the bench in the shadow of the future Beis Hamikdash and look into the face of Shloimke Furman.
Simultaneously, we reach out and hug each other.
As the tears run down our cheeks, 41 years of needless resentment are finally washed away.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 973)
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