Ask 3 Times

Was reading a story about forgiveness from my friend Abdulla. In his story, he referenced the Jewish tradition contained in the Shulchan Aruch, which is basically the code of Jewish Law.  From what I’ve read, Jewish ideas about forgiveness are in line with how I view forgiveness as a Humanist.

Specifically, if you do harm to someone, you must seek forgiveness from that person. God cannot forgive you for a harm you have done to a fellow human. Only the harmed person can forgive you.  Amen to that. The only way to restore your relationship with the person you harmed is to seek their forgiveness.

Here’s where it gets really good. If someone genuinely seeks your forgiveness, according to Jewish law, you must not withhold it.  This is important because, forgiving someone means letting go of the hurt. It doesn’t excuse the hurt or harm, it just means you aren’t going to dwell on it anymore and you and the person who hurt you can move forward with your lives.

Here’s what I think is the best part. If you genuinely seek forgiveness from someone but are refused three times you may consider your duty done, and you may forgive yourself. In other words don’t spend the rest of your life feeling guilty. If you genuinely tried to make amends but were refused, you have done all that you can and you have the right to move on with your life and to put the episode behind you even if the person you harmed does not.


  1. Hi Jen, great post. enriching to experience to read it...

  2. Interesting concept. I think it will be very helpful in my life.


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