Judaism and Forgiveness


Dear Teacher:

Christian dude here; wanting to write a fiction novel where the main hero is Jewish, so want to be accurate as to religious beliefs. I am looking for 2 or 3 beliefs where Christians & Jews are at odds.

My first thought is: on G-d’s forgiveness. My terrible understanding of Judaism is, Yom Kippur. My understanding is, on that Holy Day, G-d finalizes His judgement on all Jews each year, and seals peoples’ names into the Book of Life / Death. That this is the last day to repent & atone.

As opposed to a Christian understanding of forgiveness: that G-d sent His son to be sacrificed to atone for the sins of all, who are saved by faith alone.

As well as the sacrifices at the Temple during that time, and how that may have forgiven Jews?

Might you share with me, about how you see “forgiveness” being different between Jews and Goyim like me?

with kind repects,





  1. Your description of atonement, forgiveness and Yom Kippur is definitely correct – however it is not complete. Judaism teaches that atonement can be achieved at any time of the year, not just on Yom Kippur. It is true that on Yom Kippur God “signs” the decree as to what kind of year a person will have. However, that decree that can be changed both for the good and for the bad according to the way that we live out our lives throughout the year.

    What, then, makes Yom Kippur such a holy and such an awesome day? The Rabbis teach that Yom Kippur – and the period leading up to it – is a time when it is easier to reach atonement and forgiveness. The “Gates of Repentance” are wide open and the ability to enter them is far easier than the rest of the year.

    In Judaism no one can automatically atone for another person. Repentance and atonement require the individual acknowledging their mistakes and their sins and then going through a period of soul-searching and introspection together with a resolution not to repeat the sin in the future before they can reach a level of forgiveness.

    According to Judaism sins can be divided into two general groups: sins against God and against one’s fellow person. When it comes to sins against one’s fellow person the only way to reach atonement is by sincerely asking them for forgiveness and being forgiven by them. Only then is it possible to be forgiven.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team