Forgiveness is a trait that is hard to receive and equally difficult to dispense. It is always a problem – theological and practical – how forgiveness is to be achieved. Personal hurts and wrongs burn deeply into our psyches and souls. Resentments at wrongs – real or imagined - done to us by others, fester within us and are deeply attached to our attitudes and behavior.
The Torah requirement for us to forgive others before Yom Kippur for their transgressions against us is a most difficult task to accomplish. And yet in the paradoxical way that human beings operate, we fully expect others to overlook our trespasses against them.
And if they do not do so kindly and quickly we are prone to treat them as poor losers. "Aw, come on, get over it!" is our motto. The greatness of Yom Kippur is that it comes to counteract this trend of attitude and behavior. We cannot expect God, so to speak, "to get over it" if we are ourselves unwilling to do so.
The Psalmist teaches us that God is our shadow at our right hand. Just as a shadow moves and reacts to the movement of the particular person so too does God, so to speak, move and react according to our movements and attitudes. Tolerance of others' foibles and errors is the beginning of forgiveness of others.
A reduced sense of ego, an acceptance of the fact the world is populated by imperfect people, that frictions and misunderstandings are the stuff of normal daily life and developing a heightened sense of inner security and self confidence – who cares what he said?! – all are the building blocks of forgiveness. And with that attitude, our Divine Shadow also shifts into the forgiving mode of Yom Kippur.
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