Promotion of Forgiveness


Dear Rabbi,

I read that there are three categories of people whose sins are forgiven: One who converts to Judaism, one who is promoted to high position, and one who gets married.

I understand marriage and conversion have power to cleanse iniquities since they are like a new start and the person is transformed (and transforms himself) into a “new person” with a clean slate.

But what is the connection between one’s promotion and the forgiveness of his previous transgressions?



  1. Very interesting question! Seems like three “shortcuts” to repentance! And, as you ask: What is the reason why a person who receives a promotion should have the “bonus” of having his sins being forgiven by God?!

    For starters, the source for the statement you cite that these three types of people are forgiven by God is found in the Midrash, mentioned in Rashi’s commentary to Genesis 36:3. The commentaries explain that that most basic common denominator between all these people is that they have a new start to life. A convert begins his new life as a Jew, one who is elevated to a high position starts out on a new path in life, and a married couple embarks on a new and holy life together.

    In a related way, the Jerusalem Talmud offers a Torah source for the idea that someone who is recognized as a Torah Sage, someone who becomes a groom and someone who is anointed as king receives forgiveness for all of his sins. This teaching is based on the juxtaposition of the verse, “And you should honor the elder” (Leviticus 19:32) with the next verse, “And when a convert lives among you.” Since a convert is considered to have begun a new life with a clean slate, so too someone recognized as an elder (i.e. Torah scholar) is also perceived as having a new beginning in a sense. The Maharsha, one of the classic commentaries on the Talmud, suggests that since God decreed that this individual should be recognized as a leader — in particular as someone who guides others in the moral Monotheistic way of the Torah — we must assume that God has already forgiven his sins.

    Of course, being forgiven for sins is never automatic. It requires a well-known process known as teshuva, which requires regretting the sin, righting the wrong as much as possible, and accepting to not repeat one’s misdoings.

    Best wishes from the Team