To forgive or not to forgive? That is the question!
September 7, 2018
In a previous Everywhere column, “Love is not the antidote to hate,” (Heritage Florida Jewish News, Aug. 17, 2018), I suggested that respect for one another was the only effective antidote to hate.
Now, as we approach the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a time of self-reflection in our relationship with the Divine, we will also likely hear from the pulpit of many synagogues, the need to reflect on our many personal relationships, on our general behavior, and how well we treated those with whom we have interacted within the past year.
As we seek forgiveness via prayer, repentance and charity for our heavenly transgressions, we are also urged to seek forgiveness from those we have mistreated or hurt, and in turn to forgive those who have behaved badly toward us.
A good start then would begin by reintroducing the practice of respecting one another despite our different views, and forgiving those with whom we had issues during this past year. Respect for one another may even make the path to forgiveness less treacherous. In the final analysis the decisions we make about forgiveness will be unique to each of us, but there is no reason not to make mutual respect the underlying basis for all our actions.
In that light, I would begin by asking forgiveness from those readers of my column who were personally offended or hurt by the contents of any of my columns this past year, and by forgiving those who may have denigrated me personally for the views expressed in my writings rather than respectfully expressing an alternative view.
While respect for others is always appropriate, there are some views, matters and conduct that are so egregious as to be unforgivable.
Despite the legitimacy of the Women’s Movement for equality in all aspects of American life, I find myself unable to forgive those progressive Jews who in January marched with the anti-Semites and anti-Zionists (redundancy?) in Washington, D.C.; nor will I forgive the Jew-haters who proclaimed that feminism is incompatible with Zionism.
As a supporter of equal rights for the LBGTQ community, I will not forgive those members in that community who condemn Israel, which is the only nation in the Middle East where LBGTQ individuals can live openly without fear, are respected, and enjoy equal protection of the law.
I also find myself, in this time of forgiveness, unable to forgive those Jews who opposed the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
While criticism of Israeli government and U.S. policies that effect Israel is perfectly legitimate, I do not forgive those who reside outside Israel who seek to impose policy changes by coercive methods, because they cannot effect change in Israel by the legitimate use of the Israeli ballot box.
Those who threaten to withhold donations to Israel’s social and medical NGOs, or wage economic war on Israel through the BDS to delegitimize the Jewish state, and organizations like Students for Justice in Palestine who physically intimidate Jewish students and suppress free speech, or actively support indirect funding of terrorism against Jews and Israelis, are not only not forgiven, but must be continuously condemned and actively opposed.
As the new year unfolds, we should keep in mind Israel’s security needs and pray for a year of peace, prosperity, health, and good fortune for both America and Israel.
As Jewish Americans we should give particular thanks that we are doubly blessed by G-d’s Covenant with the Jewish people and by the protective embrace of the U.S. Constitution. La Shana Tovah!
In you wish to comment or respond to any of the contents herein you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner. If you wish to respond by ranting and raving, please go into your bathroom, lock the door and shout your brains out.
Mel Pearlman has been practicing law in Central Florida for the past 45 years. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; on the District VII Mental Health Board, as Special Prosecutor for the City of Winter Park, Florida; and on the Board of Directors of the Central Florida Research and Development Authority. He was a charter member of the Board of Directors and served as the first Vice President of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as its first pro-bono legal counsel.