A Post-Kippur Post: The Power to Ask for Forgiveness and to Forgive
Asking for forgiveness represents our ability to tune into our natural instincts. The G-dly side within us appears, and raises us beyond our own nature
Yom Kippur presents the challenge of forgiveness. There’s actually a double challenge: the ability to ask for forgiveness and the ability to forgive. Neither of these can be taken for granted. We naturally tend to feel that we are right and be haughty. Even if we realize deep down that we’ve made a mistake and have acted inappropriately, we are quick to convince ourselves that we were right all along. This is human nature. Why should we give in and ask for forgiveness? The ability to accept our own fault and apologize demands a certain amount of humility.
The ability to forgive those who’ve wronged us isn’t easy either. We usually wish we could get revenge for having been wronged. Even if we’ve succeeded in overcoming the desire for revenge, we usually don’t want to stay in touch with the guilty party. This is our natural reaction to someone whom we feel has harmed us. It’s very difficult to forgive and open a “new page.”
Forgiveness is one of the characters of G-d that we try to emulate. The Torah commands us: “And thou shall walk in His path.” Our wise ones (blessed be their memory) explain: “He is called merciful–so you should be merciful; He is called forgiving–so you should be forgiving.” Just like the Creator is called “Quick to forgive,” so too, should we forgive our fellow human beings.
Translated from an article by Menachem Brod from the Chabad magazine “Sichat Ha’shavua”