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A Hasidic parable tells of a king who quarreled with his son. In a fit of rage, the king exiled his son from the kingdom. Years passed, and the son wandered alone through the world. In time, the king’s heart softened, and he sent ministers to find his son and ask him to return. When they located the young man, he answered them that he could not return to the kingdom–he had been too hurt, and his heart still harbored bitterness. The ministers brought back the sad news to their king.

The king told them to take his son the following message: “Return as far as you can, and I will come the rest of the way to meet you.”

Perhaps there is no absolute, one-way forgiveness. Is there a possibility on the part of the one who receives the apology as well? Often forgiveness is more effective if we admit our mistakes as well, if we “return” halfway toward the other. Think of a time you longed to be forgiven and may have reached out to the person from whom you wanted to achieve forgiveness. Did the forgiving come easier this way? Why?

–David Wolpe

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