On the Doorposts of My House

On the Doorposts of My House

Forgive us our accidents?

I must have been really out of touch lately because I just recently heard (for the first time) a commercial that has apparently been on the air for quite a while, promising to forgive me if I am in a car accident and not push my rates through the roof. Seems innocuous enough. Who doesn’t want an insurance company that is going to say: we understand you messed up, but we are going to let you off the hook anyway.

On the one hand, this is awesome. People have accidents. Why should we pay for the rest of our lives for something we didn’t mean to do? After all, if I accidentally bump you in the hallway, I apologize; you say ‘no worries'; we go our separate ways and never think about it again. Why should it be any different when it’s a car involved?


On the other hand, I found myself really upset by this forgiveness marketing strategy, and because occasionally I need to rant, here are all the reasons why:

I realize that religious groups have a long and varied history of buying and selling forgiveness – we sacrifice lambs; we buy forgiveness from the church with huge donations; we kneel and self-flagellate until we feel we have paid enough in blood to be pure again. But paying the church or God or the temple at least makes sense. These are groups that, in some way, can be considered to be involved in a person’s moral or spiritual life. But I don’t ask my doctor to forgive me for needing stitches. I don’t ask my dentist for forgiveness if I get a cavity. These are unavoidable incidents that carry little moral weight and don’t need to be forgiven, which leads me to….


an accident is, by definition, something unintentional and unexpected. It isn’t an intentional wounding, a purposeful damaging of something. Now, if this unintentional and unexpected wounding happens to a person, then I can see the need for a brief apology, a quick forgiveness, a discussion about how to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. What I don’t see the need for is intense amounts of guilt – which is exactly what these marketing strategies of forgiveness foster. They tell us we have been bad, that we have done something wrong. They tell us to feel guilty for what we have done and then pay a little bit extra so that we no longer have to feel that guilt. Unless I was texting, drinking a mimosa, or arguing with my mother while driving, I don’t feel the need to feel guilty about a fender bender that was accidental and unexpected.


Guilt and forgiveness should be, I believe, deeply theological and moral issues – the general fender bender is neither of these. I am not going to pray on Yom Kippur for forgiveness for my fender bender, or my stitches, or the way I accidentally broke a glass last week. Forgiveness is for relationships – whether that relationship is between two people, between ourselves and God, or something we need to give our own selves.

And this forgiveness is hard enough, pressing enough, without allowing ourselves to be guilted into begging forgiveness from our insurance companies as well.

Comments Post the First Comment »
post a comment

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

Another blog to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting On The Doorposts of My House. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Tattooed Jew Happy Reading!!! ...

posted 6:48:10pm Jul. 06, 2012 | read full post »

So I'm having this conversation on Facebook with a very dear friend. It started with his news that he no longer counted as a Jew for the purposes of a minyan. For those who don't know, a minyan is a group of ten Jews who have gathered for the ...

posted 3:54:03am Dec. 18, 2011 | read full post »

Dear Mitt Romney
Dear Mitt Romney, I’ve heard you are having money troubles. After all, if the best thing you can think of to do with 10,000 dollars is make a bet with someone on television, then clearly you aren’t getting creative with ways to invest ...

posted 3:57:35pm Dec. 12, 2011 | read full post »

Prayers for healing
One of the strangest parts of my job is the completely transitory nature of the relationships I build. Sure, every bar has it's regulars. They keep the bar going. But for the most part, people come in and out. You see them once or twice, while ...

posted 9:00:00pm Nov. 30, 2011 | read full post »

A reading list for the rest of us
Recently, the Huffington Post ran an article on the 18 texts every Jew should read. While it was a fascinating article and filled with wonderful texts, it had a few flaws that should not be overlooked. Most of the authors were men. Almost all of ...

posted 9:52:49pm Nov. 02, 2011 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.