When My Friend Became My Enemy

When My Friend Became My Enemy

My friend Rivka* returned my “Shalom” with narrowed eyes and through gritted teeth…

Rivka and I have been close friends for over a decade. On more occasions than I can count, I’ve provided Rivka with a compassionate ear during times of crisis (of which she has experienced many), and raised charity funds for her when she did not have money for Shabbat or her water or electricity were in danger of getting shut off (as has often been the case).

And Rivka has reciprocated my kindnesses on more occasions than I can count, in her own ways…Rivka is a true tsadekes with a heart of gold. And like many tsaddikim, I suppose, she has suffered greatly in her life, from her deeply troubled childhood until her profoundly troubled present.

Our friendship hit stormy waters this past fall when her brother was interrogated by the police for his alleged participation in the Nachlaot Pedophile Ring. Rivka felt, I assume, that my efforts to help the Ring’s victims meant that I had joined “the enemy,” in other words, the people, she felt, who had falsely accused her brother.

This past winter Rivka called me up, sounding broken and strange. “Jenny! Jenny! Why do you insist on putting your nose where it doesn’t belong? What are all of you doing? Why are making SO MUCH trouble!”

After that phone call, things became very tense between Rivka and me. I tried to be nice to her, and she shook with rage in response.

And the truth is, as the months passed, I started resenting HER for resenting ME. How dare she accuse me of “making SO MUCH trouble,” when I was just trying to help the Pedophile Ring’s many victims and protect the neighborhood’s children from future attacks? I had never taken a stand against her brother, since I have no idea whether he is really guilty or not.

So many webs and rings of resentment and anger targeted in so many directions in the aftermath of this Pedophile mess. Why did my life and life in Nachlaot have to become so darn complicated? Why had my old friend Rivka turned against me?

But today, when I saw Rivka approaching me on the street, out of nowhere Hashem sent me a lightning bolt of a brilliant idea.

Years ago, I heard that if you are angry at somebody or somebody is angry at you, then you should daven for them.

So as I approached Rivka this morning on the street, I started davening for her. I davened that she should be happy, that she should be healthy, that she should be financially comfortable, that she should have shalom bayit, that she should have only nachas from her children.

And I braced myself for the same outraged response as usual, like a Sderot resident preparing herself for an incoming missile with her arms placed defensively over her skull…

But yanno what happened? You’re not going to believe this JewishMOM, but it’s 100% true.

Before I could even say “Shalom,” Rivka turned to me, and for the first time in months I saw my old friend Rivka again. We talked for maybe 10 minutes, about all of the pain and anxiety that she’s been holding in her heart. How terrifying it was when her brother was interrogated, and how scared she is that he will be arrested or physically attacked by community vigilantes. Of course, the crisis we were discussing was a different one than the crises we used to talk about, but our friendship and the fondness we felt for each other was the same as always.

As though Hashem had simply rewinded the tape to the point in our lives before we were angry at one other…

Incredible, isn’t it? The power of sincere prayer to heal our hearts as well as the hearts of others.

*Identifying details have been altered.

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6 comments

  1. This is actually similar to what it says in today (Tuesday’s) daily lesson in Tanya: It quotes the posuk in Mishlei, that a heart mirrors another, like water mirrors a face.

    When we love another person in our hearts, it has a real power to affect the feelings of that other party.

    (I learn it from the free subscription on KidsChitas.org)

  2. Beautiful. I learned that from you, Jenny, to daven for another person when you are having trouble with them and it has helped the situation more than once. Sending many blessings your way and wishes for the loveliness and peace in your neighborhood to return.

  3. ruth cohen

    wow jenny that was lovely. proves that we are winning, that light is swallowing up the blackness. its a very special story.

    the only reward of a mitzvah is another mitzvah. when we jump in to save the children that is the only goal.and of course we will be targeted if you are high profile like you are.

    and of course you were able to do that, as you have passed through the harder times not so long ago and that gives you confidence and ability to reach higher levels of spirituality

    i am not happy just for you on a personal level but also that this shows that the children are winning too. every victory is lifting the children up and giving them power. one less enemy against them is one more friend supporting them

    may this be the beginning of real soul searching by others involved in the cover up all the way up to rabbi’s,politicians. judges and powerful people who have their own agenda why they want to close this story down.

    the feeling when you master a negative trait and control your spirit is so liberating. that is true freedom.

    well done jenny – you are spreading light and that is the most powerful energy in the entire world. we are winning.

  4. Sharon Saunders

    Jenny, you are a light leading us through the darkened streets of Nachlaot. I wish your friend much mazal dealing with her family troubles and a renewal of your friendship.

  5. Deborah

    Beautiful story. Thanks for posting it. To me it demonstrates what ‘love your fellow as yourself’ looks like in action.
    Yehudis Schneider’s book, ‘You Are Who You Hate’ expounds on this idea.

  6. Again, thank you for reminding us about this important principle. I also try to daven for the people I cannot help.
    Adina

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