Forgiveness in Learning Lessons
Rosh HashanahCommunity

Forgiveness in Learning Lessons

Helen Scherrer-Diamond is Community Outreach Director for Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care and current President of the Atlanta Lodge of B’nai B’rith International.

I feel very strongly about how “actions speak louder than words,” especially when it comes to forgiveness.  As human beings, we can have forgiveness, show forgiveness, offer forgiveness, but it is very difficult to forget, especially when negative actions are repeated. Let’s always help educate the world about respect, tolerance, and understanding and share why we can show forgiveness, expect forgiveness, and ask for forgiveness, but we will “never forget” if a lesson cannot be learned.

Hate, intolerance, and abuse of human rights should never be tolerated, and it’s difficult to forgive the actions of those who abuse human rights. My wish is for human beings to acknowledge how we can use our brains to forgive an action, by truly learning our lesson, and not doing that same unkind act ever again!

Never again to 6 million human beings who were annihilated by other human beings during WWII. Never again to genocide against any human being ever, no matter what their religion is or what the color of their skin is, or how fat or skinny they are, no matter where they live in this world! Even though we are mammals, we do not have to act like animals. We are human beings and we can use our brains, control our anger, know and respect others’ rights, and try to understand and accept the differences. We need to teach and remember how we are all individuals and all in G-d’s hands.

We can forgive the “ignorance” of others but will never ever forget any intolerable act of disgrace, disrespect or bullying. We can forgive bad actions by not repeating them, especially those actions which we know are intolerable or just plain wrong. Actions truly do speak louder than words. Speak up if you experience an unkind act yourself or see it being done to someone else. Forgive the unkind person who did the unkind act but be sure that the unkind act is never done again! Speak up when you see or hear physical or verbal abuse in schools, or at work, or in a public place, or in your place of worship or in your home. Report the abuse before the act is done again.

To forgive means apologizing and saying the word “sorry” and meaning it! Then maybe the word forgiveness will have some true and long-lasting meaning. Tikkun olam is a concept that is an integral part of being Jewish. Loosely translated, it refers to our obligation to repair the world, to make the world a better place in which to live, work and play. We need to forgive, but not be ignorant nor complacent about the action. We need to be true to our words, learn our lessons and forgive by not doing it again.

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