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Last Step: Forgiveness

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

In my post last week, we spoke about the main steps of teshuvah, but there is one more crucial step. When we admit that we have hurt another person in our lives, such as by harming his reputation, causing him emotional pain or financial loss, we must ask forgiveness from that person.[1] It can be hard to ask forgiveness from someone; we may feel that he wronged us more than we wronged him. One of my teachers once taught me, “If you value the relationship more than your ego, just apologize.”[2] G-d does not forgive the sins that we commit against other people until we at least seek forgiveness from them first.

Now is also the time to forgive those who have hurt us. Recently, we spoke about how G-d is quick to pass over the sins of those who are quick to forgive others. Surely forgiveness is a lofty act, but what is it, really? When we forgive someone, we are not approving of his behavior. Rather, “[B]y forgiving you, what I am doing is granting you the space you need to do the work to become the kind of person who wouldn’t have hurt me. That’s forgiveness. I have enough space in my mind and my heart to accept your imperfection and allow you room to grow.”[3]

We should forgive and be forgiven for any past harm and merit a year of health, happiness, and revealed blessing. Please forgive me for any harm that I may have caused you in the past year! (And please forgive the general nature of this apology!)

Resource Suggestions:

  1. A more informative, in-depth pamphlet on teshuvah: outlining the steps, their sources, and illustrations.

  2. A cute visual infographic on teshuvah

[1] Rambam (Maimonides), Hilchos Teshuvah (Laws of Repentance), 2:2, 9

[3] Rabbi Shais Taub, Ami Magazine, Issue 288, p. 96.

*Thank you to Sara Yoheved Rigler from the Kesher Wife Club for her teachings on true self-esteem, which inspired the quote on the photo.

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