What is forgiveness?

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  • #616326

    DaMoshe
    Participant

    I was speaking to a cousin of mine a few days ago, and he asked me, “You know, at this time of year, people are always asking, ‘Are you mochel me? Are you mochel me?’ We almost always say yes. It’s asked in a flippant, almost not-caring sort of way. Do people really know what forgiveness means?”

    I thought about this a lot after. I think that in these cases, we really don’t understand forgiveness, because these people didn’t really do anything all that bad to us. The things they did are usually quickly forgotten, and therefore easily forgiven.

    How often do we really have someone do something bad to us that really leaves a lasting effect? I don’t think it’s all that often. But those are the things which probably require forgiveness more than anything else.

    Imagine if someone bullied you non-stop for a number of years in school. That’s something that can leave a lasting impression. It’s very different than the kid you got into a fight with one day over who got the better hit while playing baseball during recess. If that bully comes to you years later, asking for forgiveness, is it easy to forgive him? It’s definitely not as easy as saying, “I forgive you for anything you did to me this past year” when you can’t even remember something the person may have done!

    I think true forgiveness is in cases where you actually might consider denying the request.

    #1100240

    TheGoq
    Participant

    The act of forgiving is actually more for the victim than the wrongdoer once you forgive you no longer hang on to the hatred that can consume your soul. Does this mean that everyone should be granted automatic forgiveness no, i have forgiven those who did not ask it so i could move forward with my life.

    #1100241

    zush12345
    Member

    I once heard a beautiful explanation of the meaning of mechila. The popular understanding that everything is forgotten and the relationship between the two parties reverts back to where it was is obviously wrong, especially in cases when lasting damage has already occurred. The true meaning of forgiveness is that when a person harms another human being, a certain negative connection is formed between the offender and the victim which is the cause for all the pain and anger. The offender has shelita, a certain control over the victim. Think about it, when someone offends another person, it only really hurts when the person has some connection to the victim, some kind of bond that is now fueling negative feelings. So mechila is to CUT that negative bond, to say that you have NO control over me anymore and I am not bound by you at all. Now, after that painful process of disconnecting and being able to face the offender without feeling that “feeling” of control, the victim can now determine if this relationship is worth pursuing or not.

    This is the true meaning of mechila.

    #1100242

    forgiveness is only accepted by Hashem when the person really means from deep in his heart that he is mochel his friend. we all know the famous saying “words are nothing” forgiveness needs to come with feeling & sincerity. a person cannot just read the al chaits on yom kippur flying through them & then just assume that hashem forgives for everything on the entire list. he needs to have charata to never do it again, in order for his teshuva to be accepted.

    open up a sefer shaarei teshuva from Rabeinu Yona to see the complete steps of teshuva for trshuva to be fully accepted & forgiven.

    Have a ksiva v’chasima tova

    #1100243

    Joseph
    Participant

    Goq & zush: So, then based upon your arguments, one should forgive/be mochel irregardless whether or not the person who wronged you asked for forgiveness or not, and irregardless whether the person who wronged regrets he wronged you or does not regret he wronged you. Since forgiving is for the victims benefit, the victim should forgive someone who never asked for forgiveness and doesn’t even regret it.

    #1100244

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    i have heard that same thing many times but it does not make sense to me. it is true that if i stop harboring resentment or anger it will make my life better regardless of the offenders doings, but when someone causes you tremendous pain and damage, i dont see how that can magically disappear. Even when fully believing that all the suffering is from Hashem and for the good, that won’t stop your stomach from contracting when the person passes you on the street.

    and i can understand why Hashem would want me to refrain from wishing him ill or cursing him or wanting revenge as those are all prohibitions, but why forgive someone who is not regretful, remorseful or even willing to admit wrongdoing?

    #1100245

    feivel
    Participant

    Joseph, syag

    No one says it’s easy.

    Every night before we go to bed we give mechila to EVERY Yid, and we cover all cases, even if it happened in a previous life, and we make no mention of their remorse or lack of it. It is completely unilateral.

    And we say let no one be punished on my behalf. We try to do this with a full heart.

    Do you want to be responsible for Hashem “being forced” to punish his beloved child because you are makpid?

    #1100246

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    Easy or hard, I am searching for understanding. And if you are up for the challenge, I am all ears and ready for change.

    I would never want someone punished on my behalf and I don’t think I am being makpid on something. I find this all very confusing, if that is the right term.

    Let’s say someone causes great harm to me/my family, damaging our menuchas hanefesh, trust in people and daily ability to function. They know they are wrong but have decided to go ahead with it all. Not only is there no show of remorse, but the situation is ongoing, perhaps others continue to be hurt as well.

    As a “trauma victim”, there are psychological and physiological responses when the person’s name comes up or if they are seen. It is impossible to “feel comfortable” in their presence or trust them.

    This is all separate from wishing them harm, telling others of their deed, taking revenge. All suffering has been accepted bAhava, the person is obviously just a shaliach of Hashem for great suffering and not acting on their own.

    So now, what does that have to do with forgiveness? Wouldn’t the acceptence of it being Gds will fulfill the requirement of mechila? Why would you say that being punished for a terrible thing they did would be my doing? Would Gd say, “Gee i would be happy to let you off scott free for destroying someone but I can’t because she is still whining on about it”. Why wouldn’t their “punishment” be their own doing?

    As a side note, I have studied this in many ways thru many venues and i still search for some point of understanding. Once i understand that it is so, i am confident that i start work toward achieving it.

    #1100247

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    zush – that truly is a beautiful explanation.

    #1100248

    feivel
    Participant

    Of course their punishment in such a case WILL come about regardless of your sentiments. They did a terrible thing to a Yid without remorse and they will be called to account. That is between them and Hashem. It’s not your cheshbon or dependent on your will.

    Your kavanah, as I understand it, should be something like: Hashem you will do what is best for this persons Neshamah and to fulfill Your Justice. But please whatever happens to this person don’t let it be for my sake. Let it be for Your sake. Do not punish them because I am rightfully angry. Punish them because You are angry. I am moichel them as much as the ratio of my humanness to my Malachness will allow. That is my part, that I do because You desire it from a Yid, for whatever Your reasons. And You will surely carry out Your Justice.

    That’s basically how I understand it. If the theologic scholars enter this thread, I can’t quote the sources.

    This is a personal note from me to you.

    #1100249

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    well if thats the case, i think i can manage that. It doesnt really change my feelings toward the person/people or the way i would respond to them. i think i always understood forgiveness to mean having no hard feelings, and i don’t see that making sense. I also still wish for them to feel remorse, even if i don’t find out about it. Ive never doubted Hashem would deal with the offender/s, I don’t believe Gd needs my input for that, my comment was more of a response to the last line of your first post.

    #1100250

    Joseph
    Participant

    Feivel – A full mechila by the victim doesn’t necessarily remove the punishment of the perpetrator in beis din shel maala for the act he was forgiven for?

    #1100251

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    i remember reading a few stories about Rebbeim who were really abusive/hurtful and years later were suffering terribly. In the stories, the bachur who was marred for life is either called in a dream to the rebbe or somehow beckined and he goes to face the person who caused him so much tzar and he says to this broken but not necessarily remoseful person on the brink of death – I FORGIVE YOU! and then the rebbe recovers and life gets all better and the bachur talks about how wonderfully free he feels and all his gezeiras are lifted.

    i think those stories are awful and they give the impression that the Rebbe was cleared of his suffering because he was forgiven (so he was suffering because a grudge was held?) and that the one who was hurt, is suffering with childlessness or lack of zivug. it doesn’t make sense to me. What feivel said makes sense. (by make sense I mean corresponding to all the other things I have learned about Emunah and Bitachon)

    A better ending (and who knows what the real story is anyway) would be that the bachur is brought to the ICU unit and he says, “I am here to save your life. I am here to give you an opportunity to ask mechila so that I can forgive you with a full heart.”

    #1100252

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Who said you have to forgive those who don’t want you to?

    For what Syag is describing it would be best to do something therapeutic and get everything into a context in which you are able to be at ease even in that person’s company.

    For example, if your camel swallowed your jeep keys, which gave you a lot of trouble, you might be mad at the moment. However, when the situation is over and you are back in bed, you realize that it is just a camel. No, you won’t trust it anymore, it is dumb, it is moody. But that’s that.

    There are people whom I don’t trust, there are people who have poor judgment, are over-zealous, selfish, shallow or bad conversationalists. Now that you suffered from that aspect you are able to classify the person and you understand how to relate to that individual. In the old, undefined, context they are a mess and they ruin you. In the new context, he might be a camel. So smile nicely but stand back, for he might eat your jacket.

    #1100253

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    Forgiveness is when the person is ????? (appeases) you. Chazal don’t speak of ‘asking Mechila’, but rather of appeasement. That means when the person recognizes the wrong that was done, takes the blame, and explains how he is not of the earlier mindset and that it won’t be repeated.

    When this happens, and it is not ??? ???? anymore, you are supposed to forgive. Forgiveness in this case means the acceptance of the fact that this person changed.

    In our selfish generation, forgiveness had to be rebranded as self serving. Like all good things, you obviously gain from it, but that’s not quite what we are after here.

    #1100254

    feivel
    Participant

    Syag that last line was a peirush on what we say before going to bed. Which refers primarily to things someone did or words they said that antagonized or angered you or you perceived as a slight to your honor and the like, even if done unintentionally.

    Where indeed the makpidness of the offended could be a problem for the perpetrator, if the offense was carried out because the offender wasn’t sensitive or careful enough.

    My second post was directed towards the situation mentioned in your response to my first post.

    But indeed how and why and in what circumstances these “rules” apply are certainly far beyond my comprehension.

    I just try, as I know you do, to understand what I can at my level, to guide me towards trying to serve Hashem as best I can.

    #1100255

    feivel
    Participant

    Joseph that depends on how much of the act was against Halacha, what kind of efforts the perpetrator had made in his life to improve his Middos, his Emunah, was the act against Talmidei Chochomim in general, or against other beloved groups of Klal Yisroel etc. etc.

    but I would say to answer your question, as far as I know, no, it doesn’t necessarily remove all of the punishment.

    #1100256

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Who said you have to forgive those who don’t want you to?

    The Ramban seems to say it’s midas chassidus (depending on what you mean by “don’t want you to”).

    ?? ???? ???? ????? ??? ??? ??????? ??? ???? ?? ???? ???? ???? ????? ????? ?????. ?? ????? ???? ??????. ???? ?? ???? ??? ???? ??? ?????? ??? ?? ??? ?????? ?? ?????? ???? ??? ?? ??????

    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/rambam.aspx?rid=150

    The reason, simply, is because the Torah doesn’t want us to carry sinah in our hearts.

    The meforshim say different pshatim in this difficult Rambam, but that is the simple understanding.

    #1100257

    TheGoq
    Participant

    Joseph that is my case the ones who hurt me would never ever ask for mechila becuase in their eyes i am the wrongdoer not them i forgave them because i deserved better than to be chained to people who hurt me for the rest of my life i released myself from that pain so i could move forward.

    #1100258

    lebidik yankel
    Participant

    Syag, there is a tension between two rival points of thought here, as is often the case. One says all is from Hashem, the other says that so and so has caused you harm. Both are true, at one and the same time. I know that sounds impossible.

    As a point of reference see the Ramban Devarim ch. 20 who lays out the contradiction quite elegantly, and assigns one approach to the kohen and the other to the police.

    The gist of this all is that Yes, your friend needs forgiveness, for he has harmed you, not Hashem…

    #1100259

    fathousewife
    Participant

    as I understand it, it is the responsibility of the party who offended to earn the mechila from his VIC it is wrong utterly to make it the responsibility of the offended party to work out his or her feelings without intense effort from the offending party.

    #1100260

    moi aussi
    Member

    When we forgive ourselves, we don’t have a problem forgiving others. When we feel guilty, we’re not able to forgive, neither ourselves nor others.

    Forgiving doesn’t mean condoning bad behaviour. We condemn bad behaviour, but we don’t hold onto guilt, anger and resentment. We can’t grow when we’re stuck in guilt. We need to learn from our mistakes and move forward.

    When we forgive ourselves for our mistakes, we can forgive others for their mistakes.

    I recommend the book “FORGIVENESS” by Rabbi Abraham Twerski

    #1100261

    feivel
    Participant

    You don’t understand housewife. What you say is correct, but no one has said otherwise. No one says “it is the responsibility of the offended party to work out his or her feelings.” It is though, both a midda chasida, and ultimately a benefit to the offended party, both in how the offended party is related to in Shomayim, as well as a benefit to his “psychological” well being. This takes not one wit away from the responsibility of the offender.

    #1100262

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Correct, feivel. Look at it like defensive driving. If you know someone is about to run a red light, you stop at the intersection even though it’s your right of way.

    #1100263

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    lebidik yankel – I am able to accept those two points as being true simultaneously. I am not sure I agree with you that he harmed me, NOT Hashem. Maybe he ALSO harmed me, maybe he used his bechira to harm me, but Hashem would have protected me if it wasn’t good for me.

    moi – I have read his book and i have to say that i have used his books to guide and change my life. But this book doesn’t even address my situation, let alone council it. I was very disappointed. you are 100% correct in your point (his too) that forgiveness does not mean condoning bad behavior, but I think, from what I am learning from feivel and HaLeiVi’s words, that forgiving is not what we think it is.

    Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. forgiveness does not mean condoning bad behavior. we are obligated to refrain from negative thoughts toward the person, vengeful thoughts, wishing ill, grudges or sina. Im thinking that being in pain, being cautious, severing ties, and keeping distance are not lack of forgiveness. Sure, that person still has tremendous “control” but I look at that as the offenders problem, not mine. I am not feeling a need to see them pay for their doings. I just think that because the damage was so intense, so severe, and is ongoing, it is not possible to heal from those wounds without time. I just don’t know if I agree with the concept that continued negative responses within me are a sign of lacking forgiveness, or middos, or not doing ratzon Hashem.

    #1100264

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    i want to add that i am very grateful for all the responses in this thread. i rehash this concept all summer and through Yom Tov (minimally) and have never found this much nechama. tho i obviously have much work to do, i have a bit more direction.

    #1100265

    feivel
    Participant

    I just don’t know if I agree with the concept that continued negative responses within me are a sign of lacking forgiveness, or middos, or not doing ratzon Hashem.

    I think this concept IS applicable and correct, to a person who is entirely a malach.

    But it is something to strive TOWARDS, though you know it is not possible to get there. To whatever extent, it IS something worthwhile to work on. I believe trying to achieve this IS doing the Ratzon Hashem.

    If it is truly a horrendously difficult and painful situation, even a bit of an attempt, and even occasionally when you are particularly inspired to do so and feel spiritually strong, I believe is tremendously worthwhile.

    #1100266

    lebidik yankel
    Participant

    Syag, you write: “lebidik yankel – I am able to accept those two points as being true simultaneously. I am not sure I agree with you that he harmed me, NOT Hashem. Maybe he ALSO harmed me, maybe he used his bechira to harm me, but Hashem would have protected me if it wasn’t good for me.”

    That seems to be a contradiction; if it can be true that Hashem controls all yet also true that humans can ultimately determine another’s harm or good, then there is no need to add that Hashem would have protected you.

    Let me put it in a silly way; there is a pair of glasses where each glass shows something else. From the view of glass one, your friend has caused you harm, entirely on his own. (And darn needs mechila!) From the glass two pane, we see that ain od milvado.

    And these two views are correct. Both, not either-or.

    #1100267

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    “yet also true that humans can ultimately determine another’s harm or good,”

    I have learned much about bechira and while I have learned that a person can chose to inflict harm on another person even if that person does not “deserve” it, I have never heard it said that a human can determine another’s harm or good. Human’s are only capable of doing, they have no control over the outcome.

    regarding your glasses, as I thought I already stated, I have no problem accepting that everything is from Hashem and that people have bechira to harm.

    #1100268

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    so i must work towards the state of nothingness towards this person/people, even if i have already fulfilled my obligation of forgiving. (assuming i have, that is) well separating the two goals has definitely made it more conceivable.

    #1100269

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    Whether or not one’s choices can actually have a negative impact on another is a machlokes.

    The commonly assumed m’halach is that it cannot.

    However, the Or Hachaim Hakadosh (on the brothers throwing Yosef into the bor) seems to say otherwise.

    #1100270

    HaLeiVi
    Participant

    A great way to look at it is that a person has control over the present but not the future. While you are justified in being upset about the act you shouldn’t be thinking about how if not for this person everything would have been better.

    We find this in Rav Saadia Gaon’s Emunos Vedei’os. The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh separates the two (????? ?? ??? ????).

    #1100271

    Tossoff
    Member

    What is forgiveness?

    Well Let Me Say from Personal experience

    If a person really hurts a person deep inside

    So deep inside that he or she is willing ready and contemplating ending his or her life

    And the person or persons that did such bad afoul Damage asks for a. Me mehila and is given the mehila from the perspective that wanted to end it all

    That’s true forgive ness

    I know personally first hand

    I’m Still waiting hoping and praying

    That Hasham will Bring my grow married kids around.

    Before I go to eternal rest

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