Show Me Forgiveness

I ended last week’s blog with a reflection on seeking forgiveness: “I am no longer the person for whom doing that would be possible.” One reader asked: “Is that really possible?”


Maimonedes at one point suggests that the true repentant change their name. The person known as so and so, who did or did not do such and such, no longer exists! Imagine if every fall we sent a “yearend” letter (re)introducing ourselves to friends and family signed with our new name.


There are parallel processes at work regarding forgiveness. For everyone who has regret and wants to repair a relationship there is the “other” who has to be open to accepting the apology. Could we boldly suggest that the person who forgives should also change their name! It is as difficult, sometimes even more difficult, to find the inner strength to forgive as to regret and ask for forgiveness. To rephrase the reflection above: “I am no longer the person who is holding onto my feelings of hurt or resentment toward you.”


Each and every one of us is always on both sides of this equation—we are the one seeking forgiveness and the one opening ourselves up to forgive. Both require inner work if the outer manifestation is to have any lasting meaning. As in all of Kabbalah teaching—inner work must be reflected on the outside—it must manifest. The apology needs to be voiced, to be acted upon, change needs semenax results to occur. A new name is not sufficient if you don’t show up differently.


Rabbi Irwin Kula, in his book Yearnings (Embracing the Messiness of Life), includes a chapter on forgiveness. He starts by positing that: “If we are not seeking and receiving, being asked for and granting forgiveness on a regular basis our relationships are not intimate or alive” and furthermore, “Forgiveness is the glue of all loving relationships, holding them together and constantly renewing and repairing them.”


Kula then sets forth a distinction—“forgiveness”, he says, “is a way of being in the world.” He emphasizes that there is no such thing as “an act” of forgiveness. If I understand his point, I would suggest a different approach from the perspective of Kabbalah teachings. In the same way that there are acts associated with apology, the same holds true for forgiveness.


Inner reflection is important, words are necessary and acts are essential for apology. The same is true for forgiveness. Saying I forgive you are the words. Showing I forgive you is a further action. We learn this from God who says to Moses, “I forgive” and then “acts” by giving a symbol of that forgiveness—the second tablets. When the Hebrews saw the second tablets they knew they were forgiven.


While talk is not “cheap” demonstrating ones forgiveness through action restores the valued relationship; trust is restored even if you are still called by your same names.


1 Comment

Nancy Cohen Nowak · August 21, 2013 at 4:45 pm

So if someone has maligned you; you let them know that they’ve hurt you; they are Jewish, also, and they don’t ask you for forgiveness; you then use YK to verbally forgive them; then they continue with the same poor behavior. Is this a possible way to use the forgiveness concept ? or ……? Thoughts?

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