• Rabbi Ariel Tal

Forgiveness: Why You Should Always Forgive. An Interview with Nathan Phillips

There are two words that are extremely difficult to say for many people - “I’m Sorry”. However, the three words that are even harder to say are - “I forgive you”. Forgiveness is integral to the Teshuva process; We ask Hashem for forgiveness for our sins and misgivings, and it is a time to make amends with people who we may have hurt as well. Maimonides in his Halachi work, Mishne Torah in the Laws of Teshuva (2:10) rules that forgiveness, or mechila, is imperative to the Teshuva process:

It is forbidden for a person to be cruel and not grant pardon. One should rather easily forgive and not easily grow angry, and when the one who caused harm requests forgiveness he should forgive with a full heart and generous spirit. Even if he caused him distress and committed many offenses against him, he shall not exact revenge or bear a pain. This is the way of the Israelite people and their principled heart. But the idolaters…are not like this; rather, they preserve their wrath eternally. It thus says (Shemuel II 21:2) with regard to the Givonites because they did not forgive or grant pardon, "and the Givonites were not among the Israelites."

Upon analysis, Maimonides’ clearly believes in the following four points:

  1. A person who doesn’t grant pardon or forgive is considered to be cruel.

  2. Ideally, one should