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A practical look at how to forgive people -- especially those closest to us -- after they have caused us harm.

The Lost Art of Forgiveness

The Lost Art of Forgiveness

How and When to Forgive and Forget

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The Lost Art of Forgiveness: How and When to Forgive and Forget

A practical look at how to forgive people -- especially those closest to us -- after they have caused us harm.
Yom Kippur, Forgiveness
Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Anonymous NY September 25, 2012

spectrum abusive people A trusted person who sexually abused children (catholic priests, Coach Sandusky at Penn State) is certainly more evil than someone who just tells a white lie. So therefore, the response is also different to the crime. However, trying to get past it and forgive, one must look to God. We are so small, and see such a small picture. If we can keep that in mind, we may be able to get past certain hurts. God does allow hurtful things and who are we to understand God.. But it is very empowering to just let it go. To move on. To leave it to God. After all Vengence is His, not ours. Reply

survivor of abuse EY September 13, 2012

RE: abuse ok, I don't have to forgive him, and not to forget either so that I can continue to defend myself against being hurt again in the future - but there's no way to even approach such a person and say what's in your heart, because it will only bring forth further abuse.

so how can I absolve myself form "hating him in my heart"?

PS yet another amazing class by R. Freeman Reply

Jana Pindell Fredericksburg, VA July 23, 2012

How to reply when Forgiving My oldest son came to me and said that when I tell him he is forgiven it is like I really don't or it is just in words. That my outward reaction doesn't line up with the fact I do really forgive. You said in your teaching video that to just say "it's all okay or no big deal or it's nothing" is not the correct way to forgive someone. How should I forgive in actions? How do I make sure that forgiveness brings healing and wholeness to the person I am forgiving. Because if I just say "Oh, don't worry about it" to my oldest son or whoever is asking for forgiveness and that makes them feel like I have not really forgiven him or her. That is wrong. What is your understanding of how to make sure someone knows they are truly forgiven? Thank you for your time. Reply

Anonymous Hurst, TX January 29, 2012

Forgiveness Without going through a lot of explanations, I've been physically attacked twice in the past year by people who misinterpreted something I did. When they asked for forgiveness all I could do was open my arms to give them a real hug. It never occurred to me to hold a grudge.
Hashem forgives us on a regular basis, how can any Jew not forgive another person when they ask for forgiveness? I'd already forgiven them; I didn't know what I had done that triggered their temper.
A major bank DESTROYED my life's savings. I'm 71, can I start all over again? You bet I can.Millions of others are in my situation, but I'm just going to take my accumulated skills and open my own company and start from scratch. Frankly, I'm going to have FUN. Retirement and I don't get along too well. No weekends, holidays, vacations...feh, I may not recover all of what I've lost, so what? I am NOT going to stay angry as I've seen so many others do. With Hashem's help, I cannot fail. Reply

Anonymous Collingwood, Canada November 25, 2011

forgiveness it seems that it maybe ok to forgive mny things, but if someone diliberity does something to ruin you financially. If they absolutely know that it would kill you emotionally to do it, it is much more difficult. If it is an accident or non intentional, I can see it being easy to forgive but when it has been discussed and still they do it. I wonder if is spiritually a bad thing to leave that person. I find it easier to forgive if they aren't in your face all the time. Is that acceptable Reply

Anonymous Jackson Heights, NY October 6, 2011

Forgiveness On the topic of forgiveness, one very important verse in Tehillim 51 is where David seeks G-d's forgiveness for murder and he says "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil from your perspective; so that you are right in accusing me and justified in passing sentence." I meditated on this over and over when I needed to forgive my husband for adultery. Your idea that when we begin to forgive someone, we realize that we too need to be forgiven. The hurt is so deep, yet I can stand knowing that the sin is not against me, but against G-d. He shares the hurt. Reply

Anonymous Lethbridge, Canada September 11, 2011

Forgiveness vs Vengeance To Antonio, September 9th, 2011: The Bible teaches that God tells us 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay'. If we retaliate then we are just like the rest of the world because it's either forgive or retaliate - or we take the hate or hurt inside and become sick mentally or physically from it. God does take vengeance and while people call it Karma today, it is actually a Biblical principle of reaping what we have sown.

They say it is human nature to retaliate, and yet there is always pay back for that too that is negative.

Thank you to Rabbi Freeman for this important lesson. Reply

James.Wright Noblesville, Ind September 9, 2011

reply As usual,Rabbi.Freeman has put together another great lesson. I really appreciate Chabad for your continued teachings and your devotion to bring such excellent studies to your members. I tell everyone about this site .I just wanted to say to each Rabbi,co-worker and everyone there, I thank G-D for each and everyone of you. G-d Bless you all. Reply

antonio sabella providence, r.i. June 9, 2011

Forgiveness I find it very difficult to forgive others for hurting me. Sometimes the hurt is so great that I want to get revenge on the other person. Reply

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman March 21, 2011

Re: Question I wish I could get it down to a simple 5-step system. It's just so much more complicated than that. People are complicated.

It's something like learning to play in a band: learning not only your instrument, but to listen carefully to the other instruments as well, so that you can play together in harmony.

Nevertheless, the five points you have detailed are certainly major, if not THE major points. Just not necessarily in that order. Reply

Sabrina Little Rock March 18, 2011

Question Thank you Rabbi Freeman for such a practical and straight-forward teaching on how to forgive. I was wondering if you could help correct what I wrote down for the five points/steps you explained. I wasn't sure on point #5 especially. Please correct where I am wrong. Thank you.

1) Go to the person and talk to them.
2) Don't do say or do anything out of vengeance. Don't even think about it.
3) Ask "Who am I?" Make yourself smaller; don't think too much of yourself.
4) Forgive the person and forgive what the person did.
5) Bring compassion into your heart for the other person. Reply

Jack Mississauga, Canada November 27, 2010

Forgiveness Dear Rabbi Freeman:

You have a great facility for communicating your ideas in a lofty and practical way. Your easy-going manner is refreshing and familiar to a gentile like me. Please forgive me but can you include self-forgiveness as the focus for your next lecture. Thank-you. Reply

Anonymous Mesa, Arizona, USA November 26, 2010

The Art of Forgiveness I have been hurt by many people during my life, and believe that also I have hurt others one way or another. I learned to forgive, and forget the past.
But there are some people who I have forgiven, but cannot have a relationship with them because of their choices in life. I have chosen the path set for me by my Creator, and He is all knowing, Eternal, and Merciful. May He deal with our relationship for our sake and Heaven sake. I surrendered it all! Reply

Carmen October 16, 2010

The core of this speech The core of this speech, to me, is the teaching and the remembrance that our issue in life is with Him, and that all the peoples who are in our way and all the circumstances of our lives are there for His will, put to us in order to learn, correct, elevate our (and hopefully others) lives, using Torah's tools.

This idea saves a lot of suffering (if not all sufferings - in time, when it is ultimately fully internalized [what is a bit hard, isn't it?]) and it is fundamental to fulfill the commandment against idolatry.

I wish it would stay in my mind every second of my life. It is indeed a big solution. A great answer, if not the biggest of all. Reply

Cyann Rose Jensen New London, NH October 11, 2010

Dear Rabbi Freeman,
Thank you for your teachings. You have quelled my spirit with your words of wisdom and caused me to reach even further for G-d and his greatness. Reply

Carmen October 11, 2010

I love the voices of your listeners Especially the one asking about a criminal son (G-d forbid).
These are sincere and humble voices. All of them.
These are the voices I long to hear all the time, all my life -- voices of the soul. Reply

Anonymous USA September 21, 2010

When NOT to forgive! Dear Rabbi Freeman, I thoroughly agree with your advice to the woman who suffered such abuse.

Murder is not something I forgive. There is no good excuse for it.. Except in self defence. It is unforgivable for anyone to succomb to attack if they can fight back and return safely to their families.

Conspiracy to murder is generally an unforgivable act with others; unless it is conspiracy to murder Hitler or his cabinet.
The best one can do is isolate oneself from the memory or feeling of abuse and do something nice for themselves. A dinner, Movie, outing with close friends. Replace the bad memory with a good one. It is critical to recovery from trauma that some are unfortunately exposed to. Thank God first thing in the morning that you are alive and note the Blessing of the Great One that you did. Thank Him when you close your eyes at night. Lean more towards Him and all will be alright. Reply

Cyann Rose Jensen New London, NH September 20, 2010

Forgiving the abusers I read these posts frequently and my heart goes out to people who suffer. I have recently witnessed the horror of a slow beheading on a video which someone asked me to watch.
Somewhat reluctantly Isubject myself to watch it, and I reilized that no matter how horrific our lives are there is always someone in more suffering some where in the world. I too was physically and mentallly abused. As result I lost my unborn infants, was pushed from a moving car, shot at and hungry. I have a nervous system disease. I have painful degenerative disc and a blinding eye disease.
Our earthly lives are so short compared to eternity,G-d will comfort those who suffer. It is better to forgive than to allow hatred to eat up your soul.
I learned to forgive the murderer of my daughter. Not for his crime, but for his flawed humanity. I forgave others who came against me too.
If you are close to harm; then go away from it. I too suffered abuse but many years later reilized G-d gave us free will. Reply

Net Ben-Yahushua September 17, 2010

Thank You Very Much, for this Movie This movie makes me cry every time I see it. Reply

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman September 17, 2010

Re: having been abused As I spoke, the first step is to realize that you are under no obligation to forgive and that if you do not forgive you bear no guilt.

Instead of forgiveness, give yourself a more reasonable goal: To get past this. To stop obsessing over it. To take your life from this point on into your own hands. Take the cards G-d has dealt you and play your best with them.

As for the past, don't speak about it and don't even think about it. Put it behind you and move ahead. Reply

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