Elul 12: Facing Tragedy ~ Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish


The l6th of January, 2009, is the day when my three precious daughters and niece were killed by Israeli shells. I do not want anyone in this world to see what I have seen.

What I have lost will never come back. I need to go forward and be motivated literally by the spirit of what I lost, and to do them justice. I lost three precious daughters, but I am blessed with five other children and the future. I believe that life is like riding a bicycle, as Einstein says, “To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” I will keep moving.

And what about forgiveness? Is forgiveness necessary? When you forgive someone, you forgive and value yourself. Forgiveness is about letting go, completely and permanently.

Then there is the choice, the crossroads: the path of light or the path of darkness. I chose the first. Most people assume that this path, that of forgiveness, is difficult, but in the long run it is easier to forgive than to live with hatred or be consumed with revenge.

Forgiveness helps you move forward, away from the pain of the past to the brightness of the future. Indeed, forgiveness opens the door to a future that will not repeat the old tragedies. Sometimes the beauty in forgiveness is to forgive when you do not know whom to forgive and when no one asks you for forgiveness.

Whatever the situation, to err is human, but to forgive is truly divine.

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, M.D., M.P.H., is an Associate Professor in the Dala Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. www.daughtersforlife.com