forgiving someone who doesn't deserve it

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    If someone is consistenly verbally abusive, and will ask forgiveness before Yom Kipper, but has already many times just continued with the abuse and nastiness, how can you motivate yourself to forgive him/her?

    The person feels superior and feels the right to talk and act that way, not even aware of the need to change. The way he/she acts is so hurtful. How can I try to forgive him/her?


    I’m not exactly sure if you have to, but assuming you do, which is probably the case… People who are abusive should not be looked at with animosity, but rather with pity. They are so sick in the head and have such bad self esteem that the only way they can feel good about themselves is by tearing others down. Once we are aware of this reality we can start seeing these people as nebachs, and we become immune to their verbal abuse. It’s likely this person has severe emotional and relationship problems caused by a messed up upbringing or a traumatic early life event. We should feel sorry for them that they aren’t getting the proper psychological attention that they require for their sickness. Constantly remind yourself to view them like this and forgiveness will come naturally.


    I hope the person you’re talking about is not your husband, c”v’s. Perhaps when the person asks forgiveness you can say, well, on the condition that you promise not be verbally abusive in the future? It could be an opportunity to talk about the way he/she treats you. Just a thought.

    write or wrong

    kollel_wife-before you get to the forgiveness part, you should be working on your marriage, ie speaking to a Rav or someone your husband might listen to (ie a good friend, therapist). Perhaps, encourage that he go to lectures on Shalom Bayis. The reason to forgive your husband is not bc he deserves it. It is bc he asked for mechila, and you too want mechila from Hashem for any mistakes you might have made. You could discuss this issue with him saying, that since he feels the need to ask for mechila, then he must realize there is something wrong with the way he talks to you. You could start now by saying, if he plans on asking you this year for mechila again, you’d like him to first go speak to a Rav so that he won’t have to keep repeating the same request year after year..Hatzlacha!.

    The little I know

    Forgiveness is a process, not an event of a moment. One needs to be prepared to let go of the feelings of hurt. That is not automatic, and struggling with this is not abnormal. Some experiences of pain, abuse, or offense canbe longlasting. It requires much work to overcome that. Just expressing that one is mochel does not mean that true forgiveness has been achieved. The typical ritual of erev Yom Kippur, of, “Are you mochel me?” followed by, “Yes, I’m mochel you. Are you mochel me?” – is basically that which could be accomplished by a verbal monkey or a talking bird. There is nothing but the acting out of a simple script, without the required emotional involvement. The one asking for mechila has as much work to do to be prepared to do so with sincerity and the one granting this mechila.

    There is a recent book by Rabbi Dr. A.J. Twerski on Forgiveness (published by ArtScroll). Check it out.

    🍫Syag Lchochma

    This is something I work so hard on understanding. It is true that I have learned to pity mean, hurtful people and it has changed my life. Unfortunately, when someone is as you describe, it is hard to forgive them, and hard to understand why Hashem requires it of you. The two people who I have not been able to forgive fit much of your description but they would never think to apologize for anything. They, too, believe they are doing the right thing for the klal. The worst for me is that I can extricate myself from the situation but they are hurting many others and I cannot change anything. So how do I forgive them when it continues?

    I am working on this with a friend and we learned that you are supposed to forgive their actions because this is what Hashem wanted for both of you. But you are NOT required to forget, or to pretend it never happened. You can tell yourself that this person’s behavior is pathetic, that you pray he will learn what he is doing wrong and correct it, and know with a full heart that Hashem meets out punishment as required to those who have earned it. Beyond that, you do not need to send him flowers or invite him for tea. Just don’t spit when he walks by.

    Even this has been very difficult for me because this man is in chinuch and my children are involved, but I am davening that Hashem give me the ability to forgive as he requires.


    it helps me to forgive when i don’t necessarily view it as the person sinning continuously, but rather, Hashem sending me a message that i missed the first time through someone.

    people are just messengers, its possible to forgive anyone because it’s just Hashem and Hashem does everything with infinite kindness!


    Before answering your question – have you made this person aware that (s)he is abusive and hurtful? Many people are so self-absorbed that they actually have no clue that they are committing onaas devarim. It is a chessed and a CHIYUV d’Oraisah to give them mussar. Many of us have trouble doing so.

    That said, if someone keeps consistently abusing verbally, then apologizes, my response to that is, I can only be moichel if you are sincere in your apology. In order to do teshuvah, you have to first acknowledge wrongdoing, then honestly apologize, and finally(most crucial), make a sincere plan not to do this same action again. One who sins and says he will do teshuvah and then sin again, is not forgiven by Hashem on Yom Kippur. If the Most Merciful One deems that to be unforgivable, I see no reason why we should be more forgiving than He.

    Maybe (and it may be a challenge to do this) you should distance yourself from someone who is that nasty to you. Unless it is your mother or father, or someone who is mentally ill, cutting off the relationship might be best, as least in the short term. Sometimes a person needs that jolt, in order to realize how hurtful they are being. If I am talking out of my sheital, I apologize (sincerely).


    The op never said it was her husband why would that be inferred?

    The little I know

    Please check out the Mesilas Yeshorim, Perek 20, about the obligation to give mussar to another. Paraphrasing, if you know that the individual will not accept it, even willfully do more of the wrong behavior, the mitzvah is not say NOTHING. According to this, the chiyuv of tochacha is founded on its reception. If it will not achieve the desired outcome, the chiyuv is not just absent, but the real chiyuv is to refrain from giving this mussar. The M”Y is not clear on this, but it may be that he is explaining the second part of the posuk, ??? ??? ???? ??? as defining the parameters of this ?????, that if it will leave the person with the sin, it should not be done.


    I cannot write here who the person is, but it’s not my husband. It’s someone I have contact with at work and cannot change that situation. I don’t think the person is messed up or has problems, but just a bit cruel and insensitive. Maybe I shouldn’t write more here, but I do appreciate all the responses.

    Even if I try to feel sorry for them, it’s with so much anger and hatred, not really feeling sorry.


    You are forbidden to hate him or be angry.


    Kollel wife, “I don’t think the person is messed up or has problems,” “Even if I try to feel sorry for them, it’s with so much anger and hatred, not really feeling sorry.”

    That’s what I’m saying. You won’t be able to feel sorry for them until you realize that what’s causing them to be “a bit cruel and insensitive,” is choli hanefesh. Sickness of the soul. Just like we have various levels of physical ailments so too are there various levels of spiritual ailments. Just because someone isn’t a sociopathic homicidal maniac doesn’t mean that their soul is in perfect health. As a matter of fact, all of us need refuas hanefesh, everyone is flawed, some are just more flawed than others, and we should daven that they get their refuah.


    If you want to do the right thing, which it seems like you do, but you don’t know the proper Hashkafa or cheshbon of how to get there, don’t be hard on yourself for feeling a certain way in the past, as long as you’re working on it. Because you can’t help how you feel, until you know how to think about it, and you won’t know until you will know. So while choppy may be right, you can’t be expected to change your feelngs like flicking a light switch, as he may have implied.


    This thread is fascinating.

    Simply stating that something is forbidden doesn’t make it not so. This person clearly understands that she is meant to forgive while also being cognizant of the fact that she is having a hard time completing this mitzvah with her whole heart — which is the only way to do them, no?

    So, she is left sitting on the horns of a dilemma.

    Much of the information she has received here seems as though it would be helpful, and I hope I can add to that with my thoughts.

    1. I like that Kollel_Wife is so clear that this person is not deranged or unstable, just a normal person with a lack of sensitivity (or concern) about how his words/actions make others feel. This explanation shows you to be thoughtful and sensitive, and not trying to make this guy out to be just a jerk.

    2. If you have not had any success trying to explain to this colleague that his way of communicating is not working for you, is there someone over his head to whom you can talk? I am not saying you should commit loshon hora, or try to get him in trouble, but most companies have some sort of policy designed to help those without social graces to get along with their colleagues and perhaps a reminder from someone more powerful than yourself would help this person get the message.

    2a. If you are feeling this way, it is likely that you are not the only one. I bet that if you talk to a superior you will learn that you are not the first to complain — you might be the straw that breaks the bosses back, just what is needed to get this person the help he needs.

    2b. Again, without gossiping, you might be able to find out if others feel as you do. There is power in numbers. If you all agree to speak with the boss independently over a few days, it will become clear that something needs to be done and most bosses will take the needs of the many for a pleasant workplace to heart.

    3. If this guy IS the boss, that does make it trickier. But I didn’t get the impression that was the case here.

    4. Labor law in most places states that if a work environment becomes toxic or unhealthy it is the responsibility of management to fix it, and you cannot be punished for filing a toxic work environment claim with the department of labor. This is a last-ditch response of course, however, if all of the above fail to get management to talk to the person in question, and/or if he fails to comply with their requests and they don’t get rid of him, it is something that is worth mentioning… maybe.

    Everyone deserves to come to work in an environment that is at the least collegial and conducive to accomplishing the tasks at hand, and I hope that you are able to make that happen in your workplace. Something tells me that you are not the only one wishing for this individual to change his ways.

    As far as what you are and are not obligated to do, it seems to me that you are working to the best of your ability to be truly forgiving. If my memory serves, we are absolved from those promises and/or obligations which we have made honest effort to accomplish but have been genuinely unable to do. This seems like one of those situations so, IMHO, you can go to services this Yom Kippur with a clear conscience in this regard.

    Best of luck, and please let us know how it turns out…

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