Meaning of Forgiveness

Meaning of Forgiveness

By Jenna Zetler 
Grade 11 Herzlia High School
Head of the Judaica Portfolio on the 2022-23 Student Leadership Council

Forgiveness is never something that comes easy and is hardly ever our first instinct, but it is what allows for inner peace. According to the Torah, it is forbidden to take revenge or hold a grudge. If only it were that easy, right?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you have all heard of this upcoming Chag called Rosh Hashanah. It is not only known for its tasty apples dipped in honey, but for the lesson of forgiveness- it teaches all. The Days of Awe are the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur which are also known as the High Holy Days. Taking time out of your day to acknowledge one’s wrongs is what will guide each and every one of us into entering the new year on a clean slate, without grudges and burdens weighing us down. We have to understand that kindness along with forgiveness isn’t a one-day stop and shop on Yom Kippur. We use this period of time beforehand for self-betterment, healing and, of course, repentance.

As Elul is the last month in the Jewish year, it is viewed as a month of reflection as well as constructive change. The shofar blowing isn’t someone testing out new ringtones, but rather a special ritual blown each morning to awaken Jews to the fact that Yom Kippur is fast approaching. We are all human and the truth is, we all make mistakes. The book of Life is opened during Elul, and it stays open until the end of Yom Kippur. This is where the traditional greeting “L’shanah Tovah Tikatevu”—May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year originates from. Forgiving someone means realising that you didn’t get what you wanted. We learn from this that forgiving is more than okay, however, we must not forget. The valuable lessons of the past are what will prevent us from repeating one’s wrongdoings.

When I was asked to write about what forgiveness on Rosh Hashanah meant to me, my answer stemmed from the concept of gratitude. We are all in such a grateful position in life to have people who love us unconditionally, friends who are willing to say “I’m sorry” and for the opportunity to say “I’m sorry” ourselves. Life is never a simple path to follow;  it can be accompanied by much to be concerned about, but there is so much more to be grateful for.

I strongly encourage all to spend some time during the Days of Awe saying “I’m sorry.” And to say “I love you.”


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