Forgiveness: An Elul Treat
Many feel that the three hardest words to say are: “I am sorry.” Yet, we all know how very important those words are. Indeed, saying one is sorry, or at least admitting one’s guilt, is a critical part of the process of teshuvah, repentance.
Equally important, however, is the ability to hear someone else’s apology and to accept it. Even greater is the ability to forgo an apology altogether and simply forgive the person for hurting you.
Jewish tradition teaches that one is only obligated to ask for forgiveness three times. After three refusals, the person is no longer held accountable for their misconduct, as he/she has demonstrated true regret. The one who will not accept a sincere apology after three requests for forgiveness is now guilty of bearing a grudge.
What is wrong with bearing a grudge against a person who really hurt you? Beyond the fact that it is a violation of a Torah prohibition (Leviticus 19:18), bearing a grudge affects the person psychologically. A person bearing a grudge is, in general, less happy with the world and with other people because he/she cannot get past the feeling that he/she was wronged.
Forgiveness, on the other hand, is rather easy to bestow. And when it is done with sincerity, it is as much a gift to ourselves as it is to the person we forgive.
*This Treat was last posted on September 1, 2009.
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