In the fevered pitch of yet another scandalous news cycle, it appears that the horrific fallout over sitcom star Roseanne Barr’s ill-conceived tweet equating former President Obama’s advisor Valerie Jarrett to the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes has taken a life-changing toll on the veteran actress and comedienne.
On Thursday night, Roseanne tweeted, “I end by offering everyone involved one more apology and prayers for healing for our divided nation. Tomorrow is Shabbat and I will continue to pray that everything for everyone goes forward & ends well for all. Signing off twitter for a while. love u guys!”
She also addressed the timeless and eternal concept of “teshuva” – (repentance for one’s sins) that represents the cornerstone of Judaism.
In yet another tweet she says, “these r four steps in repentance; admitting you were wrong, making restitution, asking forgiveness from those u have hurt & at last, cracking open your heart in deep sorrow and remorse, where tears flow. #Torah”
It is clear that as mere mortals, each of us possesses deep flaws and a myriad of foibles. Our rabbis teach us that there is no sin under the sun that one cannot repent for if that repentance emanates from a totally sincere and heartfelt place.
On that score, Roseanne is 100 percent correct. For those imbibing the incessant and brow beating media coverage of her and the shocking comment she uttered, one can only pause and reflect on their own individual lives. If we engage in a searing and brutally honest examination of ourselves, there is no doubt that a great deal of us can truthfully attest to the fact that each of us, on one occasion or another, have also uttered hate filled words, words that mock and ridicule, words that have served to create fractious relationships and cause irreparable and lifelong wounds.
How many of us have cried bitter tears upon contemplation of our words and the damaging effect that they have wrought? How many of us have wished that we had never said what we had said to those around us? Surely, very few of us, if none at all, can honestly say that our mode of speech has been positively perfect in every way. Many of us also fall short in making the kind of amends that we should and is required in the dark aftermath of our frightful words.
“Death and life is in the tongue” – said King Solomon, as we peruse his words in the biblical book of Proverbs. Our rabbis tell us that there are 17 negative and 14 positive commandments pertaining to speech in Judaism. Because the power of speech can either create life or snuff it out in a fleeting moment, we are told by our rabbis that that is precisely why Hashem created the mouth with two gates; the teeth and the lips. So these two gates could perhaps help to dissuade injurious words from escaping our throats.
Having said this, it is becoming more clear with each passing moment that Roseanne is keenly cognizant that her words have hurt so very many people, beyond their original target. It is also clear that she is heartbroken and contrite and sincerely wishes to make amends and repent for her words. It is time to forgive Roseanne as we would sincerely hope that Hashem would forgive us for our past misdeeds and our choice of words.
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