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Every religion teaches us to ask for forgiveness, but must we always grant it? When I first became a rabbi, I would have said “yes.” I am no longer so sure.

Is forgiveness mandatory? What of someone who is systematically abused by a parent or sibling? Can such a person be obligated, no matter the regret, to offer forgiveness? The devastation is lifelong, and inflicted at the most tender time of life. To approach someone later, when the shell of trauma has hardened, and ask for forgiveness: Is it an act of piety or a cruel joke? What’s your position on this?

–David Wolpe

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