I know a fella who, when in college years ago, dated a girl who was interested enough in him that she introduced him to her father, the Rabbi. The Rabbi was not pleased that his daughter’s suitor was not Jewish. The boyfriend was, instead, Catholic. The Rabbi was so concerned about the relationship that he decided to make his feelings very clear to his daughter by saying, “If you marry him, you will be dead to me.”
The couple broke up. It was probably for the best.
I know another man whose daughter did not invite him to her wedding. You might wonder if there was a good reason for the cruel exclusion. There was not a good reason. It was to punish him for remarrying twelve years after divorcing her mother for good reason. He refused to exclude his wife, the bride’s stepmother.
He was, naturally, humiliated about being excluded. People attending the wedding would notice the absence of the father of the bride. He imagined what they might think. He was so devastated that he even thought of suicide Then he realized that, to his daughter, he was already dead.
What the Rabbi threatened, and what the daughter actually did, was to cut someone out of their lives, treating relatives as if they no longer exist.
Why kill yourself if you are already dead?
And why forgive the killer? The Bible teaches us to love one another, to love even our enemies, to turn the other cheek, to forgive those who trespass against us, and to pray for those who persecute us. Easier said than done.
Maybe it is smart to follow the example of opossums and “play dead.” Maybe that father should have nothing more to do with the daughter who acts like she has no father. To her, he is dead so she will have to live with that false reality. To the rest of the world, he is alive.