I agonized for hours over tearing open that package of wipes. The Jewish holiday of Sukkot started Sunday night, and until Tuesday night, those who observe the holiday more stringently are careful not to tear. (Along with some other practices they refrain from: going to work, driving a car, using electricity—the list goes on…)
Then yesterday evening I got into a discussion with my husband in which I said something impulsively and insensitively (the first time I’ve ever done that! Uhh, ok, maybe not…) He told me afterwards how it hurt his feelings. I felt remorse, but it was buried deep down under layers of defensiveness, pride, and blame, so I couldn’t actively feel the regret.
Why is it so much easier for me to feel bad for tearing a wipes package than tearing my husband’s heart?
Well, for one, I can’t blame a wipes package. I can’t say, “You made me do it!” Or, “You always have to go there!” I don’t have a relationship with the wipes package.
I also think it has to do with my upbringing. We were taught many rules about following Jewish laws (halachot, in Hebrew), just one of them being don’t tear paper on Sabbath or holidays. We were also instilled with a fear of punishment for breaking these rules—potentially eternal punishment to our souls!
We were taught how to be kind to our fellow man as well. But like I said, humans are WAY more complicated than inanimate objects, and we hardly went into detail about how complicated our emotions are, as well as how complicated and sensitive the emotions of our friends and relatives are.
Plus, when you tear a wipes package, or paper, you physically see the tear. When you hurt someone, the damage isn’t visible.
But it’s still there.
I’m still learning this. The impact of our actions, although NOT always visible, are real and deep nonetheless.