I am the mother of a murdered daughter who has written a book as a dedication, memoir and hopefully, work of inspiration. Included in the book, at my request, the murderer has written of the last five weeks of my daughters life, including her horrific death.

Why did I request this? Because I had not been in my right state of mind for five years after the killing. My daughter went missing and was buried beneath the mansion's garage by her brief boyfriend who was then eighteen. She was nineteen, and so the title, "Forever Nineteen." The last section, written through me by the incarcerated murderer, is titled, "Five Weeks To Forever."

Before making this request, I had already been writing for five years, but in that sixth year I learned many unknown things. With time, I began to feel a sort of forgiveness toward the killer. Not for his horrid crime, but for his flawed humanity. I wanted to keep hating him, but I could not. I don't understand my own feelings. But I feel compelled to continue. Now many people despise me for my forgiveness.

True, it is up to G‑d to forgive. But for now, here on earth, am I so wrong to feel this way? Should I feel hatred and spite as I once did towards a brutal killer? Should I return to rehearse in my mind, again and again, the execution of this young murderer? Should I feel as people demand that I feel? Am I wrong for feeling forgiveness?


No, you are not wrong. You are human, exquisitely human. It is the nature of empathy, teach our sages, to neutralize hatred.1

This is the way we were created. If not, humanity could not survive. As soon as we come to know the other person, we enter that person, and a small piece of that person enters us. As we forgive ourselves, again and again, so we will forgive that other person. Oh, how complex, how deep the labyrinths of the human heart.

There are times when forgiveness is sin. There is evil in our world that must be eradicated, without mercy, without looking back. We are commanded to destroy the memory of Amalek, to stamp out any vestige of him. We cannot allow even the smallest particle of such disease to enter our spirit's bloodstream, lest it poison us as well, lest we become its conspirators, in action or in silence.

The evil of this man is not of that sort. It was the evil, as you say, of a flawed humanity. One that perhaps, through compassion and understanding, can attain some sort of healing—perhaps in this life, perhaps in another. You are not letting him off the hook-as you write, only G‑d can do that. But G‑d will not hold it against you for allowing compassion to enter your heart for such a human being. After all, we are all flawed, all of humanity. If there is no hope for this one human being, how is there hope for all the rest?

But if there is hope for a bitter soul to surrender to compassion, for fierce hatred to subside to understanding, for blood-enmity to give way to forgiveness, then there is hope for all of humankind, and for this angry world to find harmony and peace.

"At first," the Midrash tells us, "G‑d thought to create the world with strict justice. He saw, however, that such a world could not stand. And so, He made compassion a partner with justice. And the world stood."

May that be soon, sooner than we can imagine, when "death will be swallowed up forever and G‑d will wipe the tears off every face," amen.