#BlogElul 13: Forgive

#BlogElul graphic

It’s Elul again!

I think it is very apropos that Rabbi Sommer is talking about forgiveness here. Of course I immediately thought about Alexander Pope‘s aphorism “To err is human, to forgive, divine”.

This connects to my #BlogElul post on the subject from 2012. I was talking about G-d forgiving the Israelites for the sin of the twelve spies, when they refused to enter the Land of Israel and were punished by an extra forty years in the desert. Some forgiveness, you might say, but G-d had originally threatened to exterminate them altogether.

In my blog post from 2013, I talked about David Wood and his concept of instant forgiveness, and his quote (I believe from the 12 step program) about how bearing a grudge was like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Both of these concepts suggest that forgiveness has nothing to do with the perpetrator and everything to do with the injured party. It is very bad for the mental hygiene to carry resentment and anger around in your soul. It is a much healthier state to purge oneself of all those thoughts and feelings that cause us to stay tethered to the bad experience or the betrayal or whatever it was that we are angry about.

Some people feed themselves on anger and revenge, hugging their injuries to themselves like a teddy bear. But there can be no growth and no redemption in a state of victimhood. In the words of the song that rings through my house altogether too much these days, let it go. Nothing can be done to change the past.

This does not mean that you agree or condone with what has happened, just that you will not allow it to control you anymore. True freedom can only be found in taking full responsibility for your own life, and being the victim of somebody else’s behaviour is not compatible with that.

A final quote from Mahatma Gandhi: Nobody can hurt you without your permission. Even if they are capable of doing so physically, they can’t touch your soul unless you let them.

What do you think?

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3 Responses to “#BlogElul 13: Forgive”

  1. Zohar Says:

    I agree with you overall, but I think that being angry is not always bad thing. Being angry at someone who has hurt you is an acknowledgement that they did a bad thing – they had no right to hurt you – and you never ever deserve to be hurt – the quote by Ghandi can also be interpreted as the untimate victim blaming. Sometimes you are hurt to your soul because no one asked your permission – they just barged in and trampled upon you. I think that understanding that this is not your fault – its the perp’s fault, and allowing yourself to be angry at them is freeing and self enhancing – you did not deserve to be hurt, you did not invite the hurt — and it was a bad bad thing. I think that all too often people take responsibility for things that they were not responsible for, and then they feel that somehow they brought the hurt upon themselves. This is especially true of children. Being angry at teh person who hurt you is an expression of self value and defense.

  2. Hadassah Says:

    You are so right that “Nothing can be done to change the past”. And forgiveness “does not mean that you agree or condone with what has happened”. Neither does it imply any kind of reconciliation. I feel that people need to work through their anger so they can get to the point where they refuse to be the victim of somebody else’s behaviour and not allow it to control them anymore. Lovely thoughtful post.

  3. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    Thank you, Hadassah!!

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