Posted by Chava Tombosky
Here is a quote from the movie “Invictus”- which, in my opinion, is one of the most important films made in this decade.
Nelson Mandela- “Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon.”
What was interesting about this quote was, it came from a man who had been locked away for twenty-seven years in hard prison by the very men he was then commissioned to lead, yet still managed to forgive them for the sake of redefining humanity. He led without agenda, except for human dignity to prevail. He led without ego, except for the pride of his country to be reinstated. He led without revenge- except to avenge the years his soul was locked away from the world, by restoring human nobility, virtue and integrity into the blood soaked soil of South Africa.
Fear comes from a place of doubt. Doubt leads to uncertainty, which gives us pause. This pause leads to distrust. Distrust can lead to broken human experiences that can be destructive and catastrophic, which can then lead us straight to a rightfully unforgiving heart. Forgiveness is a practice that very few of us can do right, which is what makes it such a difficult yet rewarding experience. Finding good role models like Nelson Mandela is not an easy feat.
It does make it easier to forgive another, if a person asks to be repreived. If the person has sought in his heart the wrong he has made and has asked deeply and sincerely for a renewed relationship, he earns the right to be forgiven. The Torah says a person is only allowed to ask for forgiveness three times. And upon the third time, if he is still not granted forgiveness, the latter person becomes the person who must then ask for forgiveness for not forgiving. So is the power of making amends wholeheartedly.
But what if forgiveness is not beseeched? Can it still be accomplished? Nelson Mandela taught us a profound lesson in his leadership. When he became President of South Africa, no one ever asked Mandela for forgiveness. Yet he knew in his wisdom, that by acting with compassion, despite what he could have rightfully done, he would be modeling the very attitude he wished others would duplicate.
Suddenly the person who should be asking for forgiveness, but who never does clearly makes a change in his behavior. He reshapes his path and creates enlightenment in his life as a result of learning his lesson through watching the person he hurt live with the pain inflicted on him with dignity and grace. However, no words were ever shared. No formal amends were made. But the forgiveness process begins organically as a result of the wronged person experiencing his foe in a new refined light.
This week, I experienced a profound awakening to my own process of forgiveness. I entered the halls of an institution that had made dire mistakes, which impacted my life in a devastating way. I swore never to pass through the halls of this organization ever again and never to forgive. But ten years had passed, and for unforeseen circumstances, I was lead back to the very place that had reshaped my destiny. I questioned whether I would be able to have complete forgiveness in my heart. So much of my life has been redefined as a result of this organization’s past errors. My faith was questioned, trust was broken, and the betrayal was so real. So much of my journey over the past ten years has been influenced and affected by the tragic episode I experienced at the hands of this organization.
What I discovered was beyond my wildest imagination. A massive reform had taken place. The very mistakes that they had made which had cost many their innocence had been repaired drastically. New leaders were in place learning from their past and rectifying their mistakes from the ground up. They had watched others model a more enlightened attitude and took note. To my surprise, I was finding myself forgiving without even realizing it.
My eyes filled with tears as I recalled the pain that came with this place, and then I looked up and saw light, laughter, and colors that changed my perception deeply. No words were ever shared. No amends were made. But the forgiveness process began. It liberated my soul, and finally removed my fear and deep resentments.
The best way to reconstruct broken pieces, and move on from a painful experience and resurrect trust is to liberate one’s soul through the power of forgiveness. The shared experience of the victim and the perpetrator become infused together on a journey to create enlightenment, awareness, advancement, and an open-mindedness to perceive a rebirth of virtue. That is why it is such a powerful weapon.
4.11.13 at 9:59 pm |
3.10.13 at 11:38 pm | Next week I kept telling myself. Next week I will. . .
2.7.13 at 9:55 pm | “You know, there is one other wine in the house. . .
1.21.13 at 12:58 am | One of our generation's biggest problems is the. . .
12.21.12 at 12:23 pm | ....immersing ourselves in this tragic news. . .
11.14.12 at 5:17 pm | Do our negative thoughts and fears have the power. . .
4.11.13 at 9:59 pm | (15)
10.21.10 at 12:17 am | She doesn't save a thing...... (5)
9.22.10 at 6:34 pm | Lucky for us, we don’t have to wait a year to. . . (5)
May 18, 2010 | 8:14 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
It is said that the Jewish calendar is like a cyclical rotating sphere. As we circulate through time every holiday we experience the same original energies permeating in the present as was there in the past of that momentous occasion where the holiday originated. This year is no different. As we enter Shavuot, we can be sure the energies we have available to us are the same as they were 3300 years ago.
This Shavuot, there is an even more significant energy that permeates in the air, for it is the 250th yartzheit of the revolutionist, philosopher, musician, poet, and righteous spiritual leader, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, otherwise known to the world as “The Baal Shem Tov”. The Baal Shem Tov was a man who had decided the world was ready for the secrets of the Torah that had otherwise been kept for the elite learners of the Jewish community to be revealed in volume. He is also known to the world as the very first Chassidic Master.
We have spent years trying to determine the secret to a happy life. Even the constitution of the United States claims that every man has the right “to the pursuit of happiness”. But with the failing economy, divorce rates up by fifty per cent, and the growing population taking anti depressants there is a very real question at hand which is, what can we do differently that will help us attain that pursuit of happiness we have all been promised?
The Baal Shem Tov was a wise man. He understood the secret to true self-discovery. He also understood that happiness is an inside job and that it takes a lifetime commitment of self -refinement and self- evaluation to receive everlasting happiness. There is no quick fix, but if we find the time to evaluate what is working and what is not working in our lives than we can learn the art of how to have healthier relationships, happier lives, and meaningful existences.
Shavuot marks the birth of the Torah, the blueprint of our lives that is meant to teach us the secrets to this quest. However, I have met many who have been exposed to the Torah as a set of laws that can feel constricting and have claimed to hinder their own self- expression. Self- expression is a vital tool into self- discovery. The reason why I love studying Chassidic mysticism so much is because it gives wise and articulate wisdom into how to tap into our own individuality while not betraying our personal goals as a human being to pursue happiness without sacrificing relationships, our Higher Power, our work or our art. It is the wisdom that gives us the light we need to maintain balance and serenity in an ever- confusing world. It is the secret to self -discovery.
On this night of Shavuot as we celebrate a time when humanity was graced with life’s blueprint, we can be sure the spirit of Chassidic revelation will grace our world as it did 250 years ago. May we merit to experience Judaism as it was intended, with the pursuit of self-discovery and happiness. May we have a very meaningful Shavuot, indeed.
As for me, I plan on spending Shavuot pursuing my happiness with a whopping slice of cheese cake followed by a good lesson on the principles of Chassidic philosophy that I am hoping will infuse me with so much inspiration, the cheesecake calories won’t even count.
*For more information on Chassidic self-discovery go to my two favorite websites:
meaningfullife.com and yeshiva.net.
May 12, 2010 | 2:17 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
This week I landed in T-mobile to get my phone fixed and a gentleman in his 60’s stood in line attempting to add text to his plan. With fear and trepidation, he asked how much it would be to add the frightening new technology to his life. He understood he needed to keep up with the all too quickly changing world if he was going to be hip. Or just plain involved. A tinge of heartache throbbed in me as I felt his pain at the ignorance of this new way of communication. I was also very amused. “Going text,” I said. Poor guy rolled his eyes and responded, “I don’t really want to, I’m not sure how to, but I got no choice if I’m going to make it in my business.
Then it dawned on me, that the feeling of not understanding why things are the way they are or how things work could feel so distressing. I am not afraid to admit that there are certain things I just don’t get at all. I don’t get how e-coli can get into Romaine lettuce bags calling a massive recall. What are they doing- washing the lettuce on a raw chicken soaked chopping board and then vacuum packing the bacteria in air tight plastic? (I’m also okay with the fact that I could be showing my cards of sheer ignorance at writing this claim- don’t judge me.) What is a Playtex eighteen-hour bra? Does it shrivel up and expire at the eighteenth hour? Maybe it is a proclamation that this bra is extraordinary because it has the ability to be worn for eighteen hours straight.
A) Who would want to wear a bra for eighteen hours straight?
B) Is this article of clothing made out of Titanium?
Why doesn’t driver’s Ed include a full on lesson on how the INSIDES of my car work? “Miss, you’ll need new rotors and your pads are out, we’ll have to change ‘em. Nine hundred and eighteen bucks.” Rotors? Pads? Does Playtex also make these? For all I know the mechanic could tell me there’s an alternate universe living under the hood of my car and I’d believe it. Maybe if Playtex made these expensive parts, they would last longer.
Lastly, I don’t get twitter. I don’t get the need to tweet. I don’t get why people want to know what I’m up to all day. I get why they want to know what I’m up to once a week, but all day- everyday? Even I don’t want to know what I’m doing all day every day, let alone know what everyone else is doing all day everyday. I am an official tweeter, but I have NO idea how to use it. I only became a tweeter because like the guy in the T-mobile store, I had no choice if I was going to make it.
I hear people following twitter are in the millions. We’ve become a voyeuristic society that depends on hearing about what other people are doing, consumed by other people’s lives so we don’t have to focus on our own. So we don’t have to concentrate on our own failures. So we don’t have to look at our own realities that are sometimes disappointing, frustrating, upsetting- Dang-I gotta learn to Tweet. ‘Course that would mean me fitting this social dialogue into my day on top of BBM, IM, texting, phone calls, and live dialogue. Which means, no time to learn auto mechanics or the origin of Escherichia coli.
Maybe I will take a Tweet course. Maybe I’ll find a way to appreciate Playtex, and finally learn what’s under the hood of my car. Maybe I’ll live my life in perfect ignorant bliss. Or maybe, I’ll text that guy from the T-mobile store and ask him.
May 9, 2010 | 10:49 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
Every Mother’s Day, for the past 13 years, I have woken up to a yummy omelette breakfast that is served to me in bed. My family brings cards to me, they shower me with love and I experience bliss. This year I woke up quite late. The house was quiet. I heard no hustling or bustling in the kitchen. I started to think everyone had forgotten about me. Maybe the thirteen year streak was over. Maybe my kids were just too old for my Mother’s day breakfasts. For years my husband has been suspicious that I take these once a year phenomenons for granted. Maybe to some extent I have in the past.
Thoughts started racing in my head. Thoughts like, maybe it’s not so bad, I don’t need the calories….I’m okay with not eating breakfast. Isn’t anybody coming? Where is everyone? Should I get up? But I can’t get up cause I could ruin the impending breakfast. Then again, what if no one comes to my aid with eggs and toast? Has everyone finally given up on this tradition? Oh MY G-D, they have given up, of course they gave up. Why would they want to continue? At some point, I guess it had to stop. This can’t go on every year till eternity. I started to face the real fact that last year may have been the last year that I would ever experience the Tombosky Mother’s Day tradition. After all, my eldest child is going into high school. Everything comes to an end eventually, right?
Cling, Clang, hammer- hammer? Noise reminiscent of a family brawl can be heard from downstairs.
Suddenly my daughter comes barreling into my room.
“You’re up?” she asks.
“It’s nine thirty, so ya, I’m up.”
“Don’t get up. Stay in bed- for like at least another hour,” she replied.
Yes! They didn’t forget after all! After about an hour of some serious seven year old meltdowns coming from the kitchen because my youngest forgot his Mother’s Day gift in school, they arrived “punctually” with cold scrambled eggs, toast, cheese, and coffee. It was without a doubt, the best cold eggs I have ever eaten in thirteen years of being a mommy. They even got me a card that sang “You’re unbelievable” and a beautiful frame with a picture of me and my kids highlighting my importance in a perfect Hallmark-like poem. Thirteen years and still going strong…...this year, I most certainly did not take Mother’s day for granted. And as was our tradition, my 13 year old finished my eggs, my middle daughter couldn’t stop kissing me, and my 7 year old son stormed out in tears over some hysterical meltdown. It was perfect.
May 3, 2010 | 2:22 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
My relationship with writing is a tumultuous one filled with love, hate, conflict, and an urge to purge with words on a daily basis. I first knew I was a writer when I was five and I wrote this poem (with the help of my father):
There was a red rose that bloomed in the garden
Its leaves wore its clothes
But the frost made it harden
Then one day,
The rose fell away.
No one saw its beauty
No one saw its day.
Notice the word “wore” in the second line is a pun.
When I was 12, I wrote an essay entitled “Why I like Shabbos”. I wanted it to be “Why I like Shabbat”, but it was my father’s suggestion to keep it Jewish-y and authentic for more impact. The essay was written for a county contest entitled “The meaning of Prejudice”. I won first place- in the county. When I was a teenager I wrote short stories. For six years I kept my stories in a notebook and on the eve of my high school graduation, I gave the book filled with my stories from the time I was 12 to my dad, my gesture to him, for encouraging me to write my first poem.
When I was in my twenties and raising my babies, I wrote children’s stories with a Seussical quality that never did get published. I sent them to several different publishers and got lovely responses but they were not looking to publish stories that rhymed at the time. I guess back in the nineties, rhyming was out.
By the time I had reached my thirty’s I began writing screenplays, my blog, songs, webisodes, musicals and finally my memoir. My husband thought it was silly to write a memoir at the age of 34. “Who writes a memoir in their thirty’s,” he said. “Isn’t a memoir your life story? You haven’t lived it in full yet.” Funny how everyone in their thirty’s are writing memoirs from Sara Silverman, to Augusten Burroughs, to Shalom Auslander. It’s become an epidemic. I of course, have read ALL of them. According to the dictionary, a memoir is an account of the personal experiences of an author. So with that definition, pretty much anyone writing a Facebook status or tweeting their experiences are writing their memoir on a daily basis.
I believe that in your life you have to look at the experiences and people that have surrounded you to figure out your life’s mission. I have frequently struggled to admit that I am a writer. It’s a solitary life. It’s not glamorous at all. Getting paid to do it is really hard. And although I like coffee shops, until a few years ago when Coffee Bean got it in their head to get comfy chairs, I was pretty annoyed by them. Plus what do you do when you have to pee and your laptop is not being watched by anyone? Do you stop your work and go home, interrupting the perfect momentum, or do you go to the bathroom and ask a perfect stranger to watch your $1000 piece of equipment that has every thought you’ve ever had in it? I guess I could work at home, but the quiet is painful.
For most writers, writing chooses them. Ask any writer, and they’ll tell you, I never would have chosen this, it chose me! So last week, I was thinking, maybe I’m not a writer after all. For the past six months I haven’t been writing as often as I should. I let things go, I haven’t been regimented. Planning my son’s Bar Mitzvah and helping my sister through home school got me so invested that my writing went to the way side. Okay those are just my excuses; maybe I was just burnt out. Another thing writers like to do, make up LOTS of excuses. Facebook, excuse. Email, excuse. Phone call, great excuse. Having to pee in Coffee Bean with no one to watch your laptop….the best excuse.
I got it in my head that I needed a job. A job away from writing, something different that I could use my gift of gab, and my whimsical persuasion for. Suddenly sitting in an office seemed really appealing. I was beginning to envy my friends who do this responsible sort of work. I could get paid for my efforts. I could afford stuff. Who doesn’t want more stuff? Basically I just wanted to get dressed every day in heels.
So my friend suggested I take a job interview for an up and coming manufacturing company as a salesperson. I was really excited about the thought of convincing people to buy face products. It was an easy sell. All I had to do was schmooze a bunch of Dermatologists to buy a regimen of skin care that they could put their own private labels on. I’m picturing myself sauntering into a Doctor’s office and chilling with the receptionist. I’m picturing lunch dates. I’m picturing free moisturizer! Plus I get to go to the shows and try hundreds of samples. This seemed like a great gig.
I drive down to the warehouse, which is deep in the valley. No one was wearing heels there. Let’s just say that the “Office” on TV was more dressed up than this one. It wasn’t a tall building on Wilshire Blvd or Century City. It was a warehouse. In the Valley. Near other warehouses. The sales manager who was interviewing me asked for a resume, which I did not bring. Mostly because, I don’t do résumé’s, and I don’t do work. Well not conventional work at least. I’m a writer! (Was a writer)? So I put my best sales person thing on. I can do sales. I’ve done sales. I’ve sold tons of stuff. I’ve sold diamonds, costume jewelry, Amway, (don’t judge me), Hairpieces, I even once sold hats and Styrofoam heads for wig wearers. I can do this job. Easy as pie. Then they ask me, “Can you use a computer? What about making websites?” Sure I can use a computer, I can’t make websites, but I can use Final Cut, oh and I-movie. Do you guys need a movie? I can do that. Not exactly what they were looking for. Final Draft?
Despite the fact that I didn’t pass the regional sales manager’s test because I didn’t touch, smell or feel the product he subtly left on his desk, they offered me the job. I was ecstatic, despite my inability to have a track record of working in corporate America for Neutrogena, Bristol Meyers, or Dove for umpteen years. What was this awesome job? Turned out it was a telemarketing position. It required me to sit in a chair for 8 hours with a headset making calls to Dermatologists. There would be no lunch dates, no chilling with the receptionist, just me in my flats sitting in a cubicle while calling people with a script (that I didn’t even write!).
I drove home and pondered this position. The money was decent. The people were so nice. I so wanted to want to do this. I so wanted to be able to do this. I so wanted to picture myself doing this. But all I kept thinking was, maybe if I took this position it would give me great material for a really decent pilot.
Then I remembered “The Office”. Damn Greg Daniels, who already had the audacity to create that show.
And so, I’m sitting in Coffee Bean writing this article, with my journal opened, my memoir awaiting, and my script half written with yet another scene listening to some guy sitting next to me who is pitching his book idea to a publisher.
I just hope I won’t have to pee.
**I do want to thank my friend for the referral, and for the company taking the time to interview me. I really wanted to want this. I really really wanted to want this. But writing chooses you. Like a sick life sentence, it chooses you.