November 30, 2021 by Lazer Brody
Dara had all the gifts that a girl could dream for. She was attractive, personable, athletic, intelligent and very popular. But, nothing in this world is perfect. Dara became so very involved in herself that she developed a lust for prestige. It wasn’t enough to be nice to Dara. She expected everyone to drool over her. As such, she developed a hate for anyone who refused to worship her.
Suzie was one of Dara’s classmates. Since she lacked Dara’s skills and natural qualities, she worked doubly hard and attained the same high scores on tests that Dara did. Not near as physically attractive as Dara, Suzie’s good heart and highly developed sense of justice made her just as popular. Whereas Dara was out for herself, Suzie would come to the defense of the weak and ridiculed girls.
Dara ran for the presidency of the student body. Who was her opponent? If you guessed Suzie, you’re right. The two candidates for the lead role in the school play were Dara and Suzie. They were perpetually vying against one another as if they were a Divine metaphor of good and evil.
Dara was by no means evil. She performed good deeds, respected parents and teachers and was honest. Yet, her lust for any morsel of honor, prestige and respect drained the energy that she could have used for other pursuits.
On the other hand, Suzie was by no means Miss Perfect. Her competition with Dara turned into a personal vendetta. Therefore, she delighted whenever Dara had a setback. Even though they both played on the school’s chess team, Suzie wouldn’t mind losing a match with a rival school as long as Dara lost her match.
Dara couldn’t look at Suzie without her blood boiling. If anything other than total respect upset Dara, Suzie’s antagonism drove her crazy.
Fast forwarding, Dara was the first in her class to be engaged and married. Suzie never seemed to find the right guy, way into her late twenties. Although Dara was happily married, eight years later, she was still childless. Her hate for Suzie was so all-consuming, that she had to see a psychiatrist who put her on meds.
One night, Dara had a dream. She saw two bearded men dressed in long robes. They told her she could have one of two wishes. Either she would be blessed with a child or Suzie would suffer a terminal illness and die. The two men told her she could not have both. Suzie, unable to make a decision, hesitated. A moment later, the two men told her that her window of opportunity was closed and she would receive neither.
Dara woke up in a cold sweat. Bewildered, she didn’t know what to do or who to turn to. She confessed to her husband, not only the dream but the whole history of her rivalry with her arch-adversary Suzie. Dara’s husband involved their family rabbi, who suggested that they turn to a certain rabbi in Israel for guidance.
The Israeli rabbi heard Suzie’s entire story. “Clearly,” he said, “the venom of your competition with each other has brought you both down. As badly as you want to become a mother, you have an equal desire for your antagonist to disappear from the face of the earth. Your dream is very real, a clear message from above. Our sages warned us that a desire for honor and prestige can certainly drive a person insane and bring him or her to extreme hate.”
“You won’t be able to become a mother until you forgive the other young lady,” continued the rabbi.
Dara protested, “But Rabbi – for years she went out of her way to make me miserable. How can I forgive her?”
“She acted spitefully, surely,” said the rabbi. “But she was a messenger from Above to stimulate you to take stock in yourself. Hashem used Suzie as a punishing rod. Yes, she caused you anguish and she is being punished for that. The fact is that she can’t find a husband, for Hashem is withholding that from her.”
“So what do we do? Asked Dara.
“Forgive each other.”
“I can’t do that, Rabbi! She caused me so much pain with a type of sadistic joy. She celebrated in my setbacks. I can’t look her in the face.”
“You don’t have to meet her face to face,” said the rabbi. “Call her and make a unilateral apology for anything you did to upset Suzie. Once you do, even if you must ask two or three times, you have done your duty. Hashem doesn’t require you to be a masochist and subject yourself to abuse. You may pick the people with whom you desire to associate. But, you may not harbor hate against another person in your heart.”
Dara spent two weeks of debating with herself before she realized that she must act on the Israeli rabbi’s advice. She called Suzie, but Suzie was anything but receptive. Dara, for the first time in her life, put her ego aside and apologized for acting like a spoiled, status-seeking brat.
Suzie answered out of instinct: “You should have made this phone call fifteen years ago.” Then, she caught herself. That’s when Suzie had her “aha” moment. Sure, Dara didn’t have children but at age 32, Suzie didn’t have a husband. She never could stomach Dara’s demands of homage. But, she knew that this hate must come to an end. Suzie once heard from her rabbi that a moment of hating a fellow human is worse that eating a ham sandwich.
Dara and Suzie were far from fond of one another. Despite the fact that neither had the intention of staying in contact, the forgave one another.
The outcome is this story is what some people would call a happy ending. Dara became a mother and Suzie found a husband. Ridding themselves of the hate that destroys body and soul made room for the love that heals body and soul.
I don’t call this a happy ending but a simple consequence of spiritual cause and effect. When we rid ourselves of hate, jealousy and contention, we become worthy vessels the limitless Divine abundance and all our heart’s wishes for the very best, amen!