Forgiveness and its Impact

As we approach the Jewish New Year of 5782, we find ourselves in profound reflection and renewal. This period, marked by the month of Elul, encourages us to delve deep into the past year’s events and examine our actions and their impact on those around us. It is a time dedicated to reconciliation, forgiveness, and preparing our hearts for the year ahead.

The Essence of Forgiveness in Jewish Tradition

The principles of forgiveness and its impact on personal growth and communal harmony are deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. These concepts are not just spiritual or abstract ideas but are embedded in the very fabric of daily life and interpersonal relationships.

When one person wrongs another, the latter should not remain silent and despise him, as stated in Samuel 2: 13:22.

“And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.” Rather, he is commanded to make the matter known and ask him, “Why did you do this to me?” “Why did you wrong me regarding that matter?”.

If you ever feel hurt by someone, taking the initiative and talking to them about it is essential. They may not even realize they’ve caused you pain, or there may be a misunderstanding that needs to be resolved. It’s your responsibility to reach out and create an opportunity for reconciliation.

In addition, it’s recommended that you attempt to reconcile with the person three times. This is especially important with family members, as those closest to us are more likely to hurt us and may respond with withdrawal, silence, hurt feelings, or anger, as illustrated in the story of Absalom and Amnon.

Insights from Rabbinical Teachings

Rabbi Avraham Danzig *2 believed that harming another person violates G-d’s law, and forgiveness can only be granted once the person who caused harm has sought it. In other words, one cannot be absolved of wrongdoing until one has tried to reconcile with the person one has wronged.

Similarly, Rabbi Yehezkel Levenshtein *3 emphasized that G-d only shifts from the Throne of Judgment to the Throne of Mercy when He sees that we are actively pursuing reconciliation and forgiving one another.

The Synagogue Service of Rosh Hashanah: A Time for Divine Forgiveness

The service offers a meaningful opportunity for individuals to seek forgiveness from G-d and ask for blessings in the new year. Forgiveness requires reflecting on one’s actions during Elul and resolving interpersonal conflicts, recognizing that control over life, death, prayers, and consequences is in the hands of G-d.

The prayer service on Rosh Hashanah has three distinct sections: Malchuyot, Zichronot, and Shofarot.

  • Malchuyot (Sovereignty) focuses on the unity and power of G-d, who governs all aspects of life. It reminds us that life’s highs and lows come from a benevolent G-d, and we should practice love and kindness toward each other.
  • Zichronot (Remembrances) acknowledges G-d’s ongoing role in our lives. Although we no longer experience direct divine prophecy as in ancient times, we trust that G-d remembers us today and in the past. We should always be aware of G-d’s presence in our lives.
  • Shofarot (Revelation) looks to the future. In Judaism, the revelation of G-d to Moses on Mount Sinai was not a final event but an ongoing process. G-d’s revelation continues daily, and we are responsible for interpreting and internalizing these sacred teachings. The holy words of our ancient texts should be continually understood and applied here on earth, as emphasized in Deuteronomy 30:12, “lo bashamayim hi” – “It is not in heaven.”

Rabbi Yair Silverman’s Insights

Watch Rabbi Yair Silverman of Moed in Zichron Yaakov, Israel, share insightful thoughts on malchuyot, zichronot, and shofarot, connecting them to our current situation.

Our prayers beseech God to move from the seat of Strict Judgement – Din – to the Seat of Rachamim – mercy.

Please, G-d, grant us life, health and prosperity.
“Teshuva, Tefila, Tzedaka, maavirin et roah hagzera”
Teshuva, returning to our core self and God
Tefila, through words of prayer and
Tzedaka, giving and sharing freely with our fellow man

Maavirin et roah hagzera – have the power to sweeten the harshness of G-d’s decree. *5


Embracing the New Year with Lessons of Forgiveness

During the month of Elul and the subsequent observances of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we have a sacred opportunity to repair relationships, heal wounds, and strive for a deeper connection with the Divine. By engaging in the acts of Teshuva (returning), Tefila (prayer), and Tzedaka (righteous giving), we embark on a significant spiritual journey that has the potential to change our lives and those of the people around us.

As we enter the new year, we take the lessons of forgiveness with us, embracing the possibilities of renewal, healing, and peace. Shana tova ve metuka—may you have a sweet and transformative year ahead.



  1. Maimonides. Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De’ot.
  2. “Rabbi Avraham Danzig.” Wikipedia
  3. “Rabbi Yehezkel Levenshtein.” Wikipedia
  4. “Structure of Our Prayer Service on Rosh Hashanah: Malchuyot, Zichronot, and Shofrot.” My Jewish Learning. Retrieved from
  5. Schneerson, Menachem M. (adapted by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks). “Teshuva, Tefila, and Tzedaka, Ten Days of Teshuvah.” In Torah Studies: A Parsha Anthology. Brooklyn, New York: Kehot Publication Society, pp. 334-337.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *