(Apropos of the approach of the month of Elul, I offer some quotations about “forgiveness” that I prepared in a recent year for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services. The purpose, of course, was and is to show that Judaism offers positive guidance in this area.)

1. “One who has sinned against [another] must say to him [or her], ‘I’ve acted wrongly against you’.” (Talmud; Yoma 45c)

2. “If you’ve done another a small wrong, let it be great in your eyes…” (Talmud; Avot d’Rabbi Natan; ch. 41)

3. “Forgive an insult done to you.” (Talmud; Avot d’Rabbi Natan, ch. 41)

4. “If another has done you a great wrong, let it be small in your eyes.” (Talmud; Avot d’Rabbi Natan; ch. 41)

5. “One should always be [bending] like a reed, not [rigid] like a cedar…” (Talmud; Ta’anit 20b)

6. “The emotional pain of an insult comes from what you add to it. Don’t add thoughts of your own to someone else’s insulting words [or actions] and you won’t suffer.  You’ll suffer if you add to the insult by telling yourself such negative things as, ‘I’m a nobody if people can talk to me like this’ or ‘If people consider me a person with such faults, I might not be able to get married or find a job,’ or ‘It’s awful that someone talks to me like this’. It’s not the insult that causes you emotional pain, but your own thoughts that you’ve added to the insult. Learn not to add [your own negative thoughts] to insults, and you’ll save yourself much unnecessary pain.” [1]

7.  כל המעביר על מדותיו מעבירין לו על כל פשעיו

“All who overlook what’s owed to them, Heaven overlooks their sins in return.” (Talmud; Rosh HaShanah 17a)

8. “Whoever is compassionate toward others [and forgives wrongs done to him/her], compassion is shown to him/her from Heaven…” (Talmud; Shabbat 151b)

9. “If one has received an injury, then, even if the wrongdoer has not asked for forgiveness, the receiver of the injury must nevertheless ask G-d to show the wrongdoer compassion, even as Avraham prayed to G-d for Avimelech, and Ayov [Job] for his friends. Rabbi Gamliel said, ‘Let this be a sign to you, that whenever you are compassionate, the Compassionate One will have compassion on you.” (Mishnah; Baba Kamma 9:29-30).

10. “Whoever forgoes retaliation [and forgives wrongs done to him/her], his/her sins are remitted…” (Talmud; Yoma 23a)

11. “When the Chazon Ish lived in Europe, he once walked in a forest with a disciple. Some people walked behind them and mocked them. The disciple insulted them back. ‘You’re not a ben Torah (serious Torah student),’ the Chazon Ish told him. ‘How would a ben Torah reply?’ the student asked. ‘He would not reply at all’ answered the Chazon Ish.” [2]

(see also: “Jews and Worrying” at https://rabbielimallon.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/7-24-11-jews-and-worrying/)


[1] based on: Rabbi Zelig Pliskin; Gateway to Happiness; p. 294
[2] ibid, p. 302-3