Monday, October 2, 2006

Blasted by Commenters at Hirhurim

So there was a discussion on the Hirhurim Blog about being mochel one who wronged us, and someone made the comment that there was no such chiyuv. I responded that while there was indeed no such chiyuv, it was a good idea. A pretty basic concept, certainly not a novelty, as I explain below. Read on to see what squirmed to the surface in response. And the real surprise is that I have been banned from posting there. Having been banned, my only option is to explain the basis for my comment below, after the comments I elicited, copied here.
UPDATE: I have been, at least momentarily , unbanned.

Comment #1:
For the record, there is no chiyuv to forgive someone if they have not even asked mechila once (and even if they did ask, one is not always chayav to forgive them then either).

Some (many/most/all in some circles) people recite a prayer every night before sleep, saying that they forgive everyone who sinned against them, but that is not obligatory, meikkar hadin. If someone recites such a prayer and it is valid, there should be no need to ask them mechila.

Comment #2, My Comment:
For the record: We create, through our behavior to those that wronged us, the standards that the Ribbono shel Olom applies to our failings. We may not have any chiyuv to be mochel anyone. And the Ribbono shel Olom may not have to be mochel us either.

Comment #3:
Barzilai - ure goin on the premise that there is a reason by default for g-d to need to be forgiving. Lets say I was perfect and I never forgave anyone that screwed me over would g-d apply my standards of not forgiving any screwball or others to his judging of me and my life of perfection .Why does g-d base his judging on what a fickle human would base their judgin of neighbors and screwballs on .Lets not forget everything or alot of stuff that g-d needs to forgive one on is predestined and hardcoded in the brain circuitry wiring and chemical levels or imbalances.Stuff like poor impulse control/attention span issues/not understanding stuff/emotionally needy/sexually needy ... and other fun shortcomings and failings are not choice oriented they are pure and unadulterated destiny/preprogrammed/hardcoded stuff. No trace of free will in sight.I'm not even sure what they did in the ancient biblical times without Ritalin /Adderall/Concerta/Strattera/ or even like happiness helpers like Prozac and Wellbutrin and other fun medicinal assistance .....Alot of stuff that needs to be forgiven can be traced to simple chemical imbalances which are so not the fault of the individual sinning or whatever .
Jaded Topaz

Comment #4:
For the record: We create, through our behavior to those that wronged us, the standards that the Ribbono shel Olom applies to our failings. We may not have any chiyuv to be mochel anyone. And the Ribbono shel Olom may not have to be mochel us either.

Rambam in hilchot teshuva has a different take - does not explain it as tryint o win browny points with God then emulating our behavior. I fanything, ti is the opposite. By being foregivefull we are emulating God.

Comment #5:
"For the record: We create, through our behavior to those that wronged us, the standards that the Ribbono shel Olom applies to our failings. We may not have any chiyuv to be mochel anyone. And the Ribbono shel Olom may not have to be mochel us either.

Barzilai - you and many who say stuff like that are trying to promote a new extra-halachic morality for the masses as a new standard for all, alebit through trying to sneak it through the back door under the guise of mussar or whatever you want to call it. I strongly object to that. You can tell people you think it's a good idea, but don't be smarter than Hashem. If Hashem didn't require it, it (unilateral mechila to all) is not the standard baseline conduct expected of all.

(End of Comments)

So, what to make of this?

Do people not say Tefilloh Zakoh before Kol Nidrei? Do people not understand what “venafshi ke’ofor lakol tihyeh” means?

See Rosh Hashonnoh 17a: Rovo says, “Kol hama’avir ahl middosov, ma’avirim lo ahl kol p’sho’ov, shene’emar, Nosei ovon v’oveir ahl pesha: l’mi nosei ovon? L’mi she’oveir ahl peshah. Rashi there: ma’avir ahl middosov is one who is not m’dakdeik against people who pain him, and he lets go of his middos and goes on, “ein middas hadin m’dakdekes acharov, ello manchoso v’holeches.”

See R’ Yisro’eil Salanter in Ohr Yisro’eil 28, where he brings the Gemora Ta’anis 25b, that R’ Akiva was answered in his prayer for rain because he was a ma’avir ahl middosov, while Rebbi Eliezer was not. R’ Yisro’eil explains that R’ Eliezer’s middoh was equally valid, but since the Ribbono shel Olom is noheig middoh k’neged middoh, R’ Akiva, who was noheig middas horachamim, was answered, while R’ Eliezer, who was noheig middas hadin, was not.

I’m just flabbergasted. I thought that the concept of Middoh k’neged Middoh was well understood. Apparently, a lot of people think that we should emulate Hashem’s “pokeid Ovon” and “lo y’nakeh” instead of “Rachum v’Channun" and "Nosei Ovon v'Oveir ahl Pesha.”

Or maybe it’s just that the internet encourages people to shoot from the hip without thinking carefully.

My son’s voice coach told him that he needs to relax his jaw and talk from the back of his mouth. My son asked how he can practice this, and his coach told him to make believe that his jaw is not connected to his brain at all. Apparently, other people have been practicing this as well.


  1. You're surprised at the reaction to your comment? You expected intelligent and well informed discussion maybe? You assumed a common set of assumptions? You thought that writers would be well informed? Why, why, why and why?

  2. Some siddurim place a paragraph forgiving other Jews at the beginning of the nightly bedtime prayers. It's a helpful part of one's nightly cheshbon hanefesh for the day gone by.

  3. To continue my last thought...

    but this does not mean we should ever assume that a specific other individual has actually forgiven us in this or any other fashion.

  4. Kol hmaver al midososev etc. has a basis in halacha as both the RIF and ROSH quote it.The SO clearly writes that one shouldn't be an aczhor in relation to giving mechila.OTOH the SO also requires one to ask for mechila on eruv Yom Kippur.Apparently this a cheleck of doing teshuva regardless wheter the agreived party was privetly moichel or not.

  5. So "hamalbin penei "chaveiro"( people) berabim ein loh chelek leolam habah" might override your midah kneged midah lovely /lofty living rules with all the corresponding profound proofs .Just something to factor in there ...& think about when utilizing your Dr Phil or Oprah or R Salanter or R Akiva forgive everyone approach to life.You should totally watch Susie Ormond too, on how to balance your money once ure finished forgiving everyone that screwed you over.Do you embarrass people you forgive, how is that workin out doesnt one cancel out or override the other?

    Also, isnt G-d on a higher level than the midah keneged midah approach of "basing his standards on our reactions and behaviour towards others .His love/giving/forgiving/anything hallmark related should not be based on or hinged upon my approach to others if he is indeed the all loving all knowing ominicient understanding g-d everyone claims him as. If I had a kid, i wouldnt not love him or not forgive him if he wasnt the best forgiver around .Also, when we ask g-d forgiveness on shortcomings and failings directly related to the brain chemical levels and imbalances he created in all his glory .......... why does he need us to ask him for forgiveness .As someone who's jaw and eyes work perfectly well and in conjuction with the brain, I've learnt that the most awesome and complex organ is the brain.Aside from mindblowing concepts like neuroplasticity and rewiring there are chemical imbalances /short circuits/misfirings and free will related chemical activities that hamper /hinder or facilitate with the living a lovely life of torah judaism . No this is not an absolutely absolve all sinnners from sinning consequences loophole, just something I never understood.

    And what about individuals with Autism, how are they rated ,if they cannot even emotionally connect with others forget about forgiving.Does G-d act in an Autistic midah kneged midah manner with them too ?

  6. Who was malbin pnei anyone b'rabbim? Do you mean because I belittled (deservedly, I think) your anonymous rant?

    Anyway, the point is that Hashem wants us to work to inculcate His middos of rachamim. Our forgiveness of others demonstrates that we have done so. It isn't a matter of despising others and forgiving them because we want to earn 'brownie points.' It's a matter of learning to love others and understand and forgive (but not enable) their imperfections and moods.