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The Bible and Suicide

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Forgiveness in Judaism  
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I understand that G-d will not forgive my transgressions against another until I try to make it right. I want to become more righteous, but I find it unbearably difficult to have to apologize to certain people. I am proud to be Jewish, but sometines I think Christians have more peace of mind because all of their sins are forgiven by believing in Jesus. I wish I could have that kind of peace of mind. The Christian G-d seems more forgiving and loving than the Jewish G-d. Am I misunderstanding something about the Jewish G-d?


You have hit upon an important point of spiritual growth.

In Western society, aversion to apology is a widespread malady. Whether somebody cuts another off in traffic, or destroys a marriage, admitting guilt is out of vogue. In fact, pop psychology has done all it can to remove whole concept of "guilt" from our lexicon. It's much easier to rationalize our mistakes away. And it's unhealthy to feel guilt, they say. "Suppress it!"

On one level, this suppression is unhealthy. When we refuse to admit, it is depressing and paralyzing. The regret stays inside and festers. 

On another level, this suppression is downright dangerous. Because the more one repeats an inappropriate act, he will eventually come to rationalize it as proper. The Nazi Himmler wrote that in his own personal experience with killing Jews, the turning point came when he was able to fall asleep at night without any guilt. He knew then that he'd crossed the point of no return.

The ArtScroll Machzor explains:

"As an intelligent, thinking, imaginative being, man has all sorts of thoughts flashing constantly through his mind. Even sublime thoughts of remorse and self-improvement are not strange to him, but they do not last. For his thoughts to have lasting meaning, he must distill them into words, because the process of thought culminates when ideas are expressed and clarified.

"That is not as easy as it sounds. It is usually excruciatingly difficult for people to admit explicitly that they have done wrong. We excuse ourselves. We refuse to admit the truth. We shift blame. We deny the obvious. We excel at rationalizing. But the person who wrenches from himself the unpleasant truth, 'I have sinned,' has performed a great and meaningful act."

Yes, Christianity is "easier." But it also involves no effort, and hence no growth. Christianity will say that a mass murderer must only accept Jesus, and then all is forgiven. 

This is irrational. A person needs to feel remorse, and to make amends to those he harmed.

As for your excessive worrying about this, try to do a "review" at the end of each day, to see where you erred, and then you can apologize to people in a more general sense, e.g. "I don't think I've been sensitive enough to you. For example, when I did XYZ" This may be easier than apologizing for everything individually.

With blessings from Jerusalem,

Rabbi Shraga Simmons

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