How do we deal with people who erred?
There is a story about a young boy who was sent by his father to sell apples in the marketplace. He set up his table and spread out his apples in a nice display to lure his customers. Suddenly, a carriage lunged forward sweeping by around the corner. Its wheel caught the edge of the table and sent the table flying, scattering the apples all over. The boy watched in despair as people snatched up the apples from the street.
In great distress, he went home empty-handed and shared with his father what had transpired. The father said: “So you didn’t get any money. That I understand. But what about the apples?”
“What do you mean?” the boy protested. “I told you what happened. The apples scattered on the floor and people snatched them!”
“Yes. I understand. You did share what happened. But tell me, my dear son, when the apples fell to the ground, why weren’t you there with the rest of the people, snatching as many apples as you could?”
Why didn’t the boy pick up the apples? He was stunned. He felt that all was lost.
How many times do we think that one bad move destroys everything?
In one of the county elections, an amendment appeared on the ballot that would allow for felons to vote. I was approached to be supportive. The offenders were not convicted of murder or sexual assaults. The subjects to be considered were those that had already served their time and parole. There are people who would feel that they forfeited their rights but committing any form of crime. Yet, on the other hand, if they did their time and were penitent, shouldn’t they be able to make amends? Are they due a life sentence? What should be the attitude towards such individuals?
During the travels of Avraham and Sara, a disastrous experience they had once encountered, was repeated. Sara was abducted, this time by Avimelech, King of Gerar. Divine intervention prevented Avimelech from approaching her, as he and his household became afflicted. Avimelech had assumed that Sara was single. However, that could not justify taking her against her will!
Avimelech received communication from G-d that Sara was a married woman and it was forbidden for him to be with her. Avimelech released her and sent her away with lavish gifts, as well as presenting gifts to Avraham. What did Avraham do when they left? He prayed that Avimelech be healed. He could have left with resentment towards Avimelech for the violation he committed. When Avraham saw the remorse of Avimelech, not only did he not bear ill feelings towards him, he wanted for him to have healing.
People make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes yield even a prison sentence. Is it the end? What should someone do when the apples fall on the floor and get bruised? Should it be all over? He won’t be able to get all and even those he gets will be bruised, so what should he do? He should pick them up and make applesauce.
When people err, should they be left to feel that it’s over for them or can caring be expressed, and opportunities presented, so that they can move forward?
Rabbi Hershel D. Becker
 Vayera 20:2
 Vayera 20:17-18