Forgiving and Forgetting

Question

Dear Rabbi, I know we should try to fix any bad relationships with family or others. However, there is a person who I just can’t bring myself to forgive. Can you help me out here? Thanks.

3 weeks

Answers

  1. Congratulations! You’ve already taken the first and most important step in fixing matters by your self-examination and desire to forgive and forget. Aside from any religious angle involved to forgiveness, I think that putting this all behind you will bring you greater tranquility and happiness.

    Having said that, forgiving can sometimes be very, very difficult and I can only encourage you to do so by sharing with you three of Judaism’s teachings through the millennia.

    First, forgiveness is important since it is a “Jewish thing” by our heritage. Our Rabbi teach that a person who won’t forgive is not a descendant of Abraham. A distinguishing trait of his descendants is that they are forgiving. This unique quality of forgiveness was a gift that God gave to Abraham and his descendants.

    Secondly, forgiving others actually betters one’s own standing. As our Sages teach, “All who act mercifully (including forgivingly) toward other people will be treated mercifully by Heaven, and all who do not act mercifully toward others will not be treated mercifully by Heaven.”

    A third reason to forgive is the most altruistic one. We were created to imitate the ways of our Creator (Imitatio Dei). Just as God is merciful and forgives our errant ways, likewise we should try to imitate this path of forgiving others who have wronged us. This emulation of God includes not bearing a grudge, not taking revenge, and many other ethical teachings of Judaism.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team