Back in 2018 I made the profound mistake of posting two angry tweets which were wrong and indefensible about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I have always believed that every human is entitled to safety, liberty and dignity. Those tweets failed to reflect my core values. I have apologized repeatedly for the two tweets, which were posted out of fear and anger. I do believe that context matters and when I wrote the comments in 2018, Hamas terrorists were literally burning thousands of acres of land in Israel with firebombs, threatening my family and millions of other civilians. Nonetheless, I should not have written in anger and I and promise to do better.
The experience of being called out for my tweets has humbled me and also taught me a great deal about my own capacity for forgiveness. When the old tweets were first unearthed (I had less than 30 followers when I wrote it) one of the people who found it said not to bother apologizing. It’s kind of a non-starter when someone says that to you, especially someone you don’t know. Anyway, that is not how I choose to live my life. I believe in apology, and I believe in forgiveness. With the growing challenges of today’s world, I absolutely can’t bear to think what will happen to our children if we as fallible humans do not acquire the ability to forgive each another.
I have learned and written about the Jewish wisdom of apology and forgiveness for JewBelong. The main idea is that when the High Holiday season comes around we are supposed to apologize to people in our lives who we might have hurt, either on purpose, or inadvertently. At JewBelong we even help our readers by giving them a “script”: “Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are coming and I want to tell you that our relationship means a lot to me, and if there is anything that I did this year to hurt you, I apologize. I sometimes speak before I think and I am not always as sensitive as I would like to be. I usually try and say I am sorry as soon as I realize my error, but I may have hurt you without realizing it. So, if I did, please accept my apology. I humbly ask for you to forgive me.” Real conversations and authentic apologies often serve to deepen relationships, so even though it can be difficult to have these conversations, it’s usually worth it.
But what happens when someone who needs forgiveness doesn’t get it? How can they enter into the New Year praying for a clean slate and another year in the, when the mistake from the previous year holds them back? The Rabbinical teaching goes something like this: if a person who has harmed another apologizes from their heart three times, they have done their duty. As long as the apology was truly heartfelt, the burden is on the person who is unable to forgive. Otherwise, the person who committed the original sin will never be able to have that clean slate, and that is not what the rabbis or Jewish wisdom were going for.
Apology and forgiveness are critical parts of Judaism, and are the key to a humanity that can truly co-exist with love and respect. Again, I apologize and wish all of us strength as we strive to do our best in an imperfect world.
I wish for you the capacity to forgive and apologize.
Why make an account and save your favorite JewBelong stuff? Because someday Jack is going to get off his ass and pop the question and you’re going to get to plan that wedding you've been thinking about since third grade.
Because why use any of your precious brain cells to remember where you kept those great readings that you’ll use someday at Jeffrey’s B Mitzvah? Make an account, keep the readings there. Easy peasy. The only thing you’ll need to remember is your password, and from personal experience that’s hard enough.
Hey, can you watch the phones on Friday? We have a thing.