Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Asking Forgiveness Sets Your Heart Free

The Jewish High Holidays are upon us.  The main theme of the holidays is repentance.  We are supposed to review what we said and did during the past year, and for anything we did that was not up to par, ask forgiveness.  One of the prayers that we say several times during the holidays has a line something like this: For a sin against God, God forgives.  For a sin against man, God does not forgive.  This means that if you have wronged a fellow human, you can't just pray to be forgiven.  You must first ask that person for forgiveness, then God will forgive you for it.

Some people take the holidays more seriously than others, and literally go to each of their friends and family members to ask forgiveness.  I don't do this, but I try to live my life so that I don't have alot of things to ask forgiveness for at the end of the year.  I try to make amends as I go along.  When I realize I have hurt someone, I try to go to them and discuss it.  Usually, they are more than willing to discuss it with me, and we end up closer than we were before.

In our society, people seem reluctant to take responsibility for their actions.  Asking forgiveness can be a scary thing to do.  You don't know how the other person will react.  Usually, though, they are pleased that you care enough to come to them and try to make amends.  Just think what a wonderful world this could be if everyone tried to avoid hurting others, and took responsibility for their actions if they did.  Even the most careful person can hurt someone inadvertently.

The key is in asking forgiveness, not in granting it. I will talk about granting forgiveness another time. Wikihow has an article about how to ask for forgiveness.  some things that it emphasizes is that you must understand what it is you did that you are asking forgiveness for, and be sincere in your request.   When you sincerely ask for forgiveness, you have taken a big step towards easing a kink in a relationship.  In Jewish tradition, you have made the effort, and that is what counts, even if the other person refuses to grant forgiveness.   Of course, everyone would feel better if forgiveness was granted, but you should still take pride in having taken the step. Holding a grudge, or allowing a hurt to fester causes more damage to you than to the person against whom you hold the grudge.  Asking forgiveness sets your heart free.

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