Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

All Things Are Forgiveable

There have been many questions about the idea that all things are forgiveable. This comment by J, is a good example. I hope my response to J is helpful to all of you who are wrestling with this idea, and perhaps a bit fearful of what embracing might entail. You are right to recognize that its a big claim, but it it deeply rooted in Jewish tradition and wonderful things can happen when it is embraced judiciously.

Mr Hirschfield Sir : The necessarily universal forgivability of all acts deemed unforgivable by some must therefore entail, according to you, that they necessarily forgive even those who are about to massacre them en masse. This is a very Christian idea, is it not? Remember the Amish who forgave the killers of their children; …


For starters, we should never assume that the values which a community holds most dearly might not be lived more fully in some other community. I have often found that the practices and insights of non-Jews hold up a powerful mirror of the things to which I aspire as a Jew. In fact, this kind of mirroring is often how different religious communities grow. But that is not the main thrust of your interesting observation, to which I want to respond.
I think that you, and many of the commenters here, are confusing the fact that all sins are forgiveable with the idea that such forgiveability demands that all people forgive all sins. From a Jewish perspective, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there may be times when it is entirely appropriate not to forgive a particular act. But that decision is a function of the one doing the forgiving, not the nature of the transgression.
I know this may be uncomfortable because it leaves all of the power with us — we can not hide behind the claim that “it’s simply too bad to forgive”. And since we all like to think of ourselves as basically forgiving people, it is uncomfortable to take responsibility for the decision. Such is life and the power of choice!
We can only forgive the transgressions committed against us, so I am not even sure what it means to forgive somebody else’s murderer, unless we are forgiving them for the pain which they caused us. But for the hurts which others have caused us, we can always make the decision to forgive without losing our integrity. In fact, I have found that sometimes, it is in those moments that we really find it.

  • Jeremiah Price

    Rabbi Brad –
    “But for the hurts which others have caused us, we can always make the decision to forgive without losing our integrity. In fact, I have found that sometimes, it is in those moments that we really find it.”
    Those words are a sermon all by themselves and contain within them the nature of G-D!

  • Rob

    What does it mean to forgive someone else’s murderer?
    Three years ago my brother murdered our father with the object of inheriting. He thereupon found my spare key and turned on all the gas jets in my house, but I came home early and turned them off. All the facts were presented to the grand jury and he was no-billed, whereupon he sneered that I would never see any member of my family again. I haven’t.
    Not a day goes by that I do not mourn. But it gets better.
    I really wrestled with the idea of forgiving my brother. It was almost like sanctioning the crime to me. It was almost like I did not love our father. But while I still recognize him for what he is, I do not hate him.
    Not that he’s been invited over for dinner, mind you, and I live in a different home with several security measures now. But whether we can forgive others or not, we can choose to live our own lives with such joy as we find in each day. For me, it gets better.

  • deb

    I had similar problems with my family untill I quit forgiving. The safety & peace of of mind of my ‘new’ family is more important than a lable like brother. I have the option of creating my own “family” with a closly knit group of friends that would never think of taking the liberties that are taken within the blood line. The old saying ‘you can pick your friends but not your family’ is not a reality in my world. I like my world now.

  • Malka66

    Am I forgiven? Really? I sit here alone on Kol Nidre missing the smiles and friendships of my synagogue of 10 years. This is where my daughter was named this is where my two step children were Bar & BatMitzvah. I am starting to wonder why our marriage didn’t begin here. Could it be that my husband and his first wife belonged to this same synagogue? Could it be I was a convert and couldn’t have a wedding at this temple? I am uncertain of these answers. What I do know is that I feel alone, seperated, scorned and frowned upon by all our family and friends due to my recent filing for divorce from my husband of 10 years, friend of 12 years. I couldn’t take it any longer, the unsatisfied, belittling comments, unhappy miserable marriage I was in. I couldn’t take feeling like all I did was wrong, the name calling the badgering daily and nightly over everything or anything. He was never happy, I was existing. I was not easy to live with we were both head strong and determined to have our way, our dreams our goals. Suddenly it all became my fault, my demise, my idea, my cause for the debt the office the house, the lack of his unhappiness. I went out of town to visit our oldest daughter, I met a dear friend who understood we became close never intimate, this person now is all I have for I have no family now after filing for divorce. My family is all deceased. My ex has made it a point to smear my name, tell all our friends I am a lesbian, liar, cheater, whore and thief. He was abusive, the police came, he resisted arrest, he was arrested, there was domestic violence in our home, in front of our youngest daughter, now I am the accused for leaving. None of our so-called close friends whom we shared Break the fast with, Rosh Hashanah dinner with or anyone for that matter has called me since I left our home. No one has bothered to ask me how I am, or if I am ok? No one has extended a invite to me to their home for the High Holidays. I simply am the scored one who left a prominent abusive physician husband. I am the one who has been told by him not to come back to our synagogue, I am the one who got sick of the abuse and filed for divorce, when all my friends asked me time and time again how I tolerated him and the situation for as long as I did. Now no one cares or bothers. Very few people have stood by me through this, maybe three compared to the status seekers of 30 or more so called friends. My husband my children were my life for so long, I am now in a new synagogue making friends and trying to keep my chin up through all the gossip about me all the slanderous comments that have been said and told about our situation. No one knows the truth, some know the distorted truth, some want his version, no one has asked me mine. I will attend my Yom Kippur services tomorrow and ask G_D to forgive me for tolerating this for so long. I will ask G_D why the so called friends have disappeared and not bothered to call me. I will ask forgiveness of all my sins and traveling so far away from my husbands wrath towards me. I will wonder why in this new year this Holy New Jewish New Year no one has bothered to call me, send me a Rosh Hashanah card or even look my way. I will ask G_D to send me genuine people in my life that love me and want to care for me not use me, acuse me or act as though they are my friends but just are fictious wondering souls who look to devour the very substance of what they assume status will bring to them. I will ask G_D to be a forgiving G_D and help me to understand why all those including my husband have forsaken me. I will ask G_D to bring to my life the peace, the tranquility and the hope and courage I once had in my youth before I was stripped and belittled by a person who wanted to only use me for their own good. May this next New Year be a good one, a prosperous one for me for my life for my health for all that I wish desire and hope for. May every New Year from here on remind me of this lesson in life. I am no saint, I am not perfect, I did not come without flaws, I have hurt no one willingly or unwillingly. Can all be forgiven so I may prosper in the book of life? Is it possible?

  • Iyana G

    Yes, indeed the recession has hit everyone hard, even the places you would think to be recession proof, like Amish communities. Amish communities interact with the outside world out of necessity, and a lot of Amish fathers look for work in cities to make ends meet. Elkhart Goshen, Indiana, is one such place, and a lot of Amish workers were laid off when RV plants laid off workers or closed. Short term loans aren’t exactly going to be what they look to, although some have filed for unemployment benefits, which goes against the grain of not accepting aid. The unemployment rate hits anywhere and everywhere, as there is a need for debt relief even in the Amish communities. Visit and learn more at:

  • Keyloggers

    You are absolutely right. In it something is and it is good

    thought. It is ready to support you.

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