The Heart Hurts
When we’re hurt by others – especially by those we love – we have a tendency to hold onto the pain and punish the other person (and ourselves) for the heartache we feel.
But the cost of holding grudges is high. Even when the”offense” is in the past – if we don’t let go, we risk getting weighed down with seething resentment and fantasies of revenge.
Rejecting opportunities for reconciliation – even if said opportunities are partial or imperfect – will only lead to unhappiness and self-destruction. What we need to heal and move on – if only for our own sake – is forgiveness. But where do we begin?
Wikipedia defines forgiveness as “the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.”
The ancient Hebrew word for forgiveness is ss_liychah (סליחה) | ehylc | This noun appears only three times in the Old Testament, always associated with the DIVINE (or what the Biblical writers believed was Divine).
The verbal form, “to forgive”, however appears at least 47 times throughout the Tanakh, and usually carries legalistic connotations such as “pardoning” in the sense of restorative justice.
We can begin by looking at the first two letters of ss_liychah (the Hebrew word for forgiveness) which is ssahmekh-lahmadh (סל) | lc | In addition to serving as a biliteral root of forgiveness, these two letters form the word ssal, which means “basket.”
Google defines “basket” as “a container used to hold or carry things, typically made from interwoven strips of cane or wire.”
By affixing an ‘aleph to ssahl, we get ssala’ (סלא) | alc | “to be weighed.” This word also carries ethical-moral meanings, such as in the Bible where the Children of Zion are “weighed against (compared to, esteemed as) gold” (Lamentations 4:2).
Ssala’, “weighing, balancing, valuing”, stems from the noun ssal, “basket”, thus implying that baskets in ancient Canaan were used not only as containers but also as scales to measure weight.
Both terms underlay the word for forgiveness, ss_liychah. There are many others we can explore, but for the purposes of this single post, we’ll keep it brief and move onto an interpretation.
What does it all mean?
Anyone in need of forgiveness (whether receiving or giving) understands emotional pain. The heart, like a basket, is a container. Its a vessel not only of blood but also joy and sorrow.
Like a basket, the heart not only contains things but also weighs (assesses, values, judges) them. Too often we hold hard feelings against those we deem to have wronged us, only for our hearts to harden, heavy with bitterness.
‘ELOHIM, who is ETERNAL LOVE, speaks to us through this Language. THEY whisper to us: “beloved, forgive as a child forgives.” Stop and listen to the other’s point of view. If possible, take your basket and pour out whatever judgment you’re holding.
By emptying our basket, we make space for better things. This space is designated by the word sselah (סלה) | elc | that unique musical term meaning “pause, silence, interlude, elevation of the voice.”
Sometimes space and silence is necessary for the seeds of forgiveness to set into the soil of new beginnings and growth.
Empty your basket. Or weave a new one with the fabric of love and forgiveness. Forgive as a child. For when we let go of dead weight, we can finally ssahlal (סלל) | llc |, “rise up, extol, elevate” over the tragedy of broken trust into renewed love and happiness. ‘Amen.