Sunday, June 28, 2009

erev yom kippur

on erev yom kippur, he calls me from yeshiva. i don't want to talk to him, but i take the phone anyway.

"little sheep," he says in his gruff voice, "do you forgive me?" he doesn't even say for what he's asking forgiveness.

ever since i was three years old, i've been taught in school that if we don't forgive the people who harmed us, then when we ask Hashem to forgive us, He won't forgive us either. what choice does that leave me? "yeah," i mumble quickly, and hang up the phone...

6/28/2009, years and years later...have i really forgiven him at all?


  1. There's no obligation to forgive everyone, or every crime, or do so at every time. What has he done to earn your forgiveness anyway?

  2. he has owned up to what he has done and is obviously sorry. True it can never undo the deeds but it should give her validation which 99.9999 percent of other victims never attain.

  3. anon, you'd be right if he hadn't threatened me a few years later that i'd "caused him enough problems already" and that if i caused him any more, i'd "regret it". he hasn't owned up to anything, at least not to me. a therapist, who later pronounced him "cured" and told my parents that the fact that he abused me wasn't really a very big issue, coached him and told him what to do. if you read what i wrote, he didn't say "little sheep, i have hurt you in many ways, and i want to do what i can to make it up to you" or anything of that sort. he asked for forgiveness, accepted a stilted yes, and went on with his life, without considering (or so it seems, at any rate) whether or not it was real.

  4. "have i really forgiven him at all?"

    Well, how do you forgive somebody who isn't asking for forgiveness?

  5. * I ask that rhetorically.

    But I think my question was are you granting forgiveness for your personal reasons as it's a measure of moving on, and possibly even necessary (I really don't know how it works).
    Or were you simply posing the thought as a means of forgiving him so that he is granted that ability of moving on.

    If the former, then it is relatively less relevant what his true feelings are on the matter as long as you get to a point where you can move on (I would imagine).
    If the latter, then I would stand by that statement above - how can you forgive somebody who isn't really asking for forgiveness.

  6. LS, you wrote: "ever since i was three years old, i've been taught in school that if we don't forgive the people who harmed us, then when we ask Hashem to forgive us, He won't forgive us either. what choice does that leave me?"

    I want to be very blunt here: A lot of what we are taught in schools is nonsense, and a lot of the people doing the teaching are shallow ignoramuses who know nothing about life. They may be sweet and friendly, but they're not worthy of the jobs they hold.

    We are encouraged to move towards forgiveness only if the offender: understands and fully acknowledges what he did wrong, understands and deeply regrets the pain he caused to another individual, is urgently asking forgiveness because he is desperate to somehow undo the pain and damage he caused to the other individual, and if in fact he feels that he would do anything, anything at all, if he could just undo the injury that he caused -- because he now understands the outrage and horror of hurting another person. Particularly if it is a person whom he was supposed to love and protect.

    Gruff, mumbled "requests" for "forgiveness" that can't even bother to specify what sins require the forgiveness aren't steps on a road to teshuva at all. They're just the opposite: arrogant and manipulative maneuvers to gain a faux, formal "forgiveness" that can be used as a psychological excuse to push the sins he committed, and his obligations to reckon with them in a true teshuva process, back down into the basement of his mind where he can continue to evade the reality of what he did...and who he is.

    Such a request isn't a step towards teshuva -- it's a step away from teshuva. It's an attempt to print out a cheap "Get out of Teshuva free" card because "Hey, it's all cool. Whatever I did, I've been forgiven." It's the actual, toxic opposite of teshuva.

    I'd suggest that the very fact that you're asking this question means that you know in your heart what was really going on that erev Yom Kippur.

  7. I think that perhaps you should absolve yourself of the "requirement" to forgive him...perhaps when it is sincere on your part, it will feel more natural someday. But the pressure to forgive? Almost as terrible as the abuse itself. First of all, take care of you.

  8. Next time, don't say yes! You're only hurting yourself! It doesn't look like he's sorry at all. The only thing he's sorry about is that people found out!

    "the fact that he abused me wasn't really a very big issue"
    umm...what?! Care to post this "therapist"'s info.

  9. The fact that you are concerned with forgiving him is amazing to me (in a good way), I don't even know him and I don't think I could forgive him for what he did to you. IMO someone who could do what he did and move on with his life while you are still suffering is not "cured". Just out of curiosity do therapists try to get you to forgive him?


c'mon, i know you're reading this! what do you think?