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There are significant differences among faiths when it comes to forgiveness. For instance, Judaism and Christianity have different guidelines. In Christianity, God forgives even when human forgiveness is absent. See John 20:21-23: “He said therefore to them [the disciples] again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.”

In Judaism, God will not forgive one who has not sought human forgiveness. In fact, the Mishna (2nd century code of law), and Maimonides, the great medieval legalist and philosopher, following the Mishna, list those who cannot be completely forgiven. Among them is the murderer, since he cannot ask forgiveness of the one he has wronged.

In your mind, is there such thing as total forgiveness? Why?

–David Wolpe

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