Some Limits on Forgiveness

“The 19th century Italian rabbi … Elijah Benamozegh teaches in the Em Lamikra (on Genesis 43:9) that in some biblical contexts, the punishment is the sin itself. In other words, despite the overwhelming narrative of forgiveness in Jewish texts and Jewish practice, some sins stay with us forever. Not because others do not forgive us, but because some transgressions are so deeply heinous that we can never forgive ourselves.

Abusers should have to live with the fundamental knowledge of what they have done. The first step would for them would be awareness of the depths and horrors of their transgressions—awareness so deep that forgiving themselves might not be possible.

The first step for us is to sit down instead of offering standing ovations. If an abuser is saying anything except “I know I’m wrong, I’m sorry, and I’m doing everything to create change,” I’m not listening. And until that point, they shouldn’t be talking.”

From Sharrona Pearl’s “Rosh Hashanah Forgiveness for #MeToo Offenders? Not Yet

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