This is the first in a three or four part evaluation of the condition of the doctrine of forgiveness in 2006. This inaugral post is the result of the following.
A Haaretz reporter gives us an article on an Israeli Rabbi who has offered "rules" for forgiveness; reading them makes me glad I don't sit under his teaching. In fact, one can read the words of this sincere but misguided teacher of the law and conjure up a vivid image of the rabbi of the first centuries BC and AD.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef says ..."If he asked his friend for forgiveness and his friend is not prepared to reconcile with him and forgive him, he should return and try a second and a third time. And each time he should tell him something different to placate him."Sounds like manipulation to me. This has little to do with providing forgiveness but everything to do with obtaining it. The topic of the article is forgiveness and yet it seems to digress into a treatise on the holocaust.
The rabbi continues ...But "when he sinned against his rabbi, he has to go and appease him even 1,000 times."A thousand times, each time with "something different to placate him"? Even God wouldn't do this. And nowhere in the Jewish Testament does it say anything even remotely similar ... not even in Proverbs or Ecclesiastes!
I'm also curious about his definition of sin."The forgiver should not be too cruel to forgive his friend ... but should forgive with a full heart and a willing soul."Oh, really? Am I the only one, or is there the hint of man's wisdom here? Paul, who was among the greatest of Jews in his day, told Timothy ...
Nonetheless, the person being asked for forgiveness is allowed to give his friend the runaround for a bit, refusing to forgive him immediately so that he learns his lesson. "And if he damaged his reputation, he isn't obligated to forgive him," but it is recommended that he do so.Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.There is more word wrangling going on here than at a round-up on a dude ranch in Wyoming!2 Timothy 2:14"He who sinned against his friend, and his friend died, brings 10 people and stands them near his [friend's] grave, and says: 'I sinned against God, the Lord of Israel, and against so-and-so buried here.' And if he sinned against him with money, he should return the money to his heirs."It will be a cold day in Sheol before many Jews do that!On the eve of Yom Kippur, "husband and wife should forgive each other for all their sins against each other and angry speech throughout the entire year."I always wondered what the Great Day of Atonement was all about! So it's about marriage relationships. Thanks Rabbi! I needed that. Now, can you tell me what I need to do to get my relationship with God fixed up as well?The "unforgiven": Are there acts that cannot be forgiven? If so, there's no doubt that genocides, led by the Holocaust, are at the top of the list.Good! Where is that written? I'd like to send a copy of it to the Sudanese government and the UN.
Continuing on the theme of the "unforgiven" the author and the rabbi offer this tidbit ...In response to an apology by German President Horst Kohler in 2005, then-opposition chairman Yosef Lapid, also the chairman of the Yad Vashem board of directors, said: "We will never forgive what Nazi Germany did to us. The rules of forgetting and forgiving do not apply to the annihilation of a third of the Jewish people."Has anyone bothered to tell God about this? I am almost certain He would like to know!
Though not intended by the author, Shahar Ilan, he inadvertently put his finger on a key part of forgiveness.The literature on forgiveness generally states that only the one who caused harm can ask forgiveness, leading to the question of whether the pope can really ask forgiveness for the Inquisition.I believe one absolutely necessary principle of forgiveness is this: the offender must seek forgiveness in order to receive it.
At first glance, it seems logical to assume that only the one who was harmed could accept the request for forgiveness.
In accordance with this principle [if indeed it is a principle], it seems that no one will be able to forgive in the name of the 6 million.
That would negate the actions of the SBC, Bill Clinton, Pope John Paul II, Willy Brandt, and numerous others during the banal and hackneyed days of confession in the late 1990s and early years of the 21st Century.
Most of the source article is just garbage, as far as this Christian is concerned. Perhaps one must be Jewish to grasp its meaning. Relative to the biblical doctrine of forgiveness it had no meat whatsoever ... old or new!
And that is where this series is going ... to the meat!
HT: Kairos Journal