Volume 28 Number 57
                 Produced: Sun Feb 28  9:12:00 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Forgiveness in Judaism (2)
         [Joshua Hoffman, Richard Wolpoe]
Forgiveness in Judaism -unconditional vs.conditional
Forgiveness in Judaism; Some Obscure Points on Forgiveness (3)
         [Rich Wolpoe, Stan Tenen, Carl and Adina Sherer]


From: Joshua Hoffman <JoshHoff@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 11:21:35 EST
Subject: Re: Forgiveness in Judaism

Rav Ahron Soloveichek has explained the phrase in tefilas zakah which
says that the person does not forgive someon who sins against me and
says I'll dso this and he'll forgive me. The idea is that the Mishnah in
Yoma says that a person who says he will sin against God and he will
forgive me' person is not helped by God to do teshuvah. We are not
allowed to go beyod the kindness of God. This is part of the mitzvah of
'Vehalachta bidracehav'-walking in God's ways. We can't forgive someone
for something which god doesn't readily forgive him for.
  The sefer 'Semichas Chachmim' on Berachos uses a similar idea to
explain the gemara that it is forbidden to be merachem on someone who
does not have da'as. He shows that God is not merachem on such a person,
and we, therefore, are not permitted to be merachem on him. He says that
this is included in the meaning of 'mah hu rachum af atah thei rachum,'
meaning, in a situaton in which He is rachum, so should you be-but only
in such situations.'Mah,' is thus taken in the sense of 'when.'

From: Richard Wolpoe <richard_wolpoe@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 09:23:57 -0500
Subject: Forgiveness in Judaism

This thread started largely because it was percevied that we were
borrowing or adpating a Xtian concept.

My model of spiritual history goes something like this: 
1) There are spiritual truths in the world ordained by our Creator.
2) The Torah (including Kabbolo) is the revealed guide to these truths.  
3) Avrohom was able to discern a good deal of these Truths without the aid of 
	explicit revelation.
4) Any sincere seeker can discover what Avrohom discovered.  Perhaps Yisro
	is such an example.
5) Other spiritual paths over time will be "mechavein" to these truths -
	either from exposure to Jews and Judaism or by a parallel discovery

In this sense I'm a bit of a contrarian in that, I am actually amazed at
how much various spiritual paths have in common. Mos people focus upon
the differences.

Forgiveness is the right thing to do from a psychological standpoint, in
that it means carrying around a lot less "baggage". (Perhaps Dr. Hendel
can cofrim this concept).  It also is consistent with the aforementioned
Gemoro and is also suggested in Parshas Kedoshim.  See Lev. ch. 19
vs. 16-18.

IOW - Religions do not necesarily "steal" ideas from each other, often they 
discover things "synchronistically".  Zeitgeist perhaps?

Richard Wolpoe


From: Mordechai <Phyllostac@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 03:28:58 EST
Subject: Forgiveness in Judaism -unconditional vs.conditional

 In response to the various responses to my recent submission on the
topic- There is no obligation to forgive someone who has not even
deigned to request forgiveness even once. Perhaps some may say that it
is praiseworthy to forgive everyone all the time-but that is not from a
halachic perspective-rather from a musar/lifnim mishuras hadin/midas
chassidus perspective-which is not obligatory and binding on everyone.
 The fact that the mishna berura writes that 'seforim' have written that
it is 'raui' to forgive those who sinnned against yourself nightly based
on Megilla 28 leads me to comment- 1)It is noteworthy that the MB
doesn't mention the 'ribbono shel olom' recitation specifically-rather
he just mentions the idea in general. 2)Looking at the gemara will show
that this was something that was said by a great leader as a response to
a question from his students-it is not given as a halachic
prescription/obligation for the masses!!
 Our religion does not prescribe unconditional complete love and
forgiveness for every sin. In fact sometimes a 'toughlove' approach is
more genuine love while the approach that poses as 'greater love'
advocating automatic and complete forgiveness of any and all
sins/offenses is actually a 'cop out' and just an easy way for people to
avoid making the sinner have to reconsider his actions seriously and
deeply, rather than superficially or not at all.
 I also would like to comment on the fact that sometimes, especially
before Yom Kippur people (esp.youngsters perhaps) seem to perfunctorily
ask (and grant) forgiveness mechanically, without much feeling
seemingly. I think that sometimes people say they are 'mochel' in such
cases, while they really still bear bad feelings. It is interesting to
note that the Rabbi Yosef Karo states in the Shulchan Oruch that Yom
Kippur does not forgive man to man sins 'ad sheyifayes es chaveiro'
-until the offender appeases his fellow (the victim). The using of the
word yifayes (appease) seems to indicate that just eliciting a
reluctant/perfunctory/mechanical 'mechila'-without appeasement- which
involves the heart- does not suffice for forgiveness.
 Also-there is a difference between not forgiving someone who has sinned
against you passively (by not taking the initiative to be mochel when
sinner has expressed no regret) and actively asking Hashem to punish
them. The latter is much more problematic obviously.
 Another thing- If the offense of the sinner against you entitles you to
monetary compensation under Jewish law, it is absurd to say that one
should automatically forgive the offender if he didn't compensate for
the damages he caused. Is that what the 'advocates' of the 'ribbono shel
olam' recitation and unconditional automatic forgiveness believe?
 The 'tefila zaka' and prayers like it are relatively recent and are
more in the category of musar/lifnim mishuras hadin/midas chassidus in
my opinion.  Also, mandating too many prayers for people to say usually
results in a dimunition of kavana. Let us remember the wise Jewish
proverb-Kol hamosif gorea-whoever adds subtracts. More can be less and
less can be more. See also the fine recent sefer 'Kav vanah by Rabbi
Seth Kadish (Jason Aronson publishers) where the author speaks about how
causing people to believe that they must recite every prayer in the book
causes many to rush through the prayers mechanically. This often causes
davening which should be 'avoda shebilev' (service of the heart) to be
'avoda bipeh' (service of the mouth/lip service) without
proper/sufficient kavannah. Many (esp. recent) additions to the siddur
seem to have been made by publishers in order to enhance the
marketability of their product by saying that it contained more prayers
than the competition-or by advertising it as 'the complete
siddur'-rather than by Rabbinic mandate.  Finally- to the advocates of
complete and automatic forgiveness and love for all always- Do you omit
'velamalshinim' in shmoneh esreh with it's strong language? Do you say
the last verse of 'nefilas apayim' 'yevoshu viyibahalu meod kol oyvai'
(they should be embarassed and exceedingly afraid all my enemies)? How
do you deal with passages of this nature?



From: Rich Wolpoe <richard_wolpoe@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 10:25:27 -0500
Subject: Re: Forgiveness in Judaism; Some Obscure Points on Forgiveness

There is a story re: R. Yisroel Salanter who was very "angry" with a
student.  He was overheard whipsering to himself "external anger only".

The parallel is: One can turn to Hashem and ask that He forgive a
person, yet when confronting that same person still display picque, if
the intenttion is to encourage the perons to do Teshuvo.  The witholding
of forgiveness is external only...

Rich wolpoe

From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 17:14:19 -0500
Subject: Forgiveness in Judaism; Some Obscure Points on Forgiveness

The discussion on forgiveness has been very interesting.  But unless I
missed something, there's a point that hasn't been mentioned.  I believe
it's in the Artscroll Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur Machzor notes, which I
don't have with me, since we're currently traveling and in
California. So this is just the basic idea.  I don't know if this is the
same section in the Machzor that Bob Werman was referring to in his
original posting.

I believe it's forbidden to forgive someone who deliberately acts
poorly, when they are counting on your forgiveness to get them off the
hook, _even before_ they've committed their misdeed(s).

This was very important to me personally recently, when I had to defend
my unwillingness to forgive the deliberately hurtful actions of a person
who all along had been counting on getting away with what they'd done
(and were continuing to do) because of my forgiving nature.  This is a
big issue for persons of another faith who have come to simplistically
believe that "all you need is love," and that you should "turn the other
cheek" in all circumstances.

There are times when forgiveness is definitely inappropriate, and
halachically uncalled-for or even prohibited.  


From: Carl and Adina Sherer <sherer@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 01:32:00 +0200
Subject: Re: Forgiveness in Judaism; Some Obscure Points on Forgiveness

On 18 Feb 99, at 17:14, someone wrote:

> I believe it's forbidden to forgive someone who deliberately acts poorly,
> when they are counting on your forgiveness to get them off the hook, _even
> before_ they've committed their misdeed(s).  

In the Tfilla Zakka that is said either before or after Kol Nidre, and
by many people before Musaf of Yom Kippur as well, there is a passage
where one unilaterally forgives those who have sinned against him,
*other than* those who said "I will sin against him and he will forgive
me." However, I don't think, in most cases, that constitutes a heter
(permission) not to forgive someone who comes and asks for forgiveness.

The Shulchan Aruch (OC 606:1) describes a procedure where one must take
three people with him and ask someone for forgiveness up to three
times. The Shulchan Aruch says that if the offended party does not
forgive the supplicant after three times, then the supplicant need not
ask anymore, unless the supplicant is a student asking his Rebbe for
forgiveness, in which case the number of times one must ask forgiveness
is apparently unlimited.

The Rama comments here that one should not be cruel and refuse to
forgive someone who asks. The Rama says that one may refuse to forgive
his peer, if he is doing it for the good of the person asking (which
strikes me as a very difficult standard to fulfill - how often do any of
us truly refuse to forgive someone with only the pure intention of
trying to help them? See Mishna Brura 606:9). The Rama also says that
one may refuse to forgive someone who was motzi shem ra (falsely
defamed) on him.

Here the Mishna Brura comments (606:11) that although one is not
required to forgive a motzi shem ra, it is a midas anava (a trait of
modesty) to do so.

 This is a big issue for
> persons of another faith who have come to simplistically believe that "all
> you need is love," and that you should "turn the other cheek" in all
> circumstances. 

I don't think you have to go that far. But I think we are required to
examine our own motives and make sure that they are pure when we refuse
to forgive someone else.

Saying "I'm sorry" is not always an easy thing to do. I think that 
when someone does it, Chazal generally would require that we give 
the person who is apologizing the benefit of the doubt.

-- Carl

Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for our son, Baruch Yosef
ben Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.  Thank you very much.


End of Volume 28 Issue 57