Thursday, August 27, 2015

#BlogElul Day 12: Forgive

"We are moral creatures; we are vulnerable creatures; vulnerability wins. This is the realest thing anyone will ever tell us in ritual."

Hoffman, Lawrence A., Ph.D.. Who by Fire, Who by Water: Un'taneh Tokef (Prayers of Awe) (p. 163). Kindle Edition.

Forgiveness is a moral and vulnerable action. It is moral in that it releases the Other from further obligation. To forgive someone is to tell them that they have paid in full the debt they owe us on account of the pain they caused. It recognizes and celebrates the act of accountability on the part of the Other.

(In this case the Other can also be the Self; that is, the aspect of the self  that, having done harm, is alienated from the Self, and requires forgiveness to be reunited).

It is also a vulnerable act. This we understand intuitively. To not forgive is to armor the self in righteousness and indignation. But forgiveness, that means laying the pain bare, exposing the self to further possible harm, it means releasing the hold over the Other. And, dare I say it? We open ourselves up to our own role in whatever hurt we experience.

The time to forgive is not Yom Kippur. The time is now. The liturgy of the holidays reminds us that it is the moral thing to do, even as it exposes our vulnerability. The question is whether we are strong enough to be both.

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