Days of RepentanceThe Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur was celebrated this past week. On that holiday, Jews ask God for forgiveness for sins committed against God – dietary laws and other laws that involve ritual. Significantly, sins committed against other people are specifically excluded. For those sins, we must seek forgiveness directly from the person against whom we have sinned. (I can assure you that for those of us who take this seriously, the thought of apologizing at this time of year has a definite effect on our behavior the rest of the year – it is not a comfortable prospect!)
I’m always struck by the emotional distress in patients who I see in my office when they are involved in a fractious relationship – especially with someone in their family. It has been shown that stress of this type has a decidedly detrimental effect on one’s health. I can also report that those with “normal” relationships with others seem much more at peace with their lives in general.
Forgiveness is offered by God in the Bible – when David is confronted by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12:1-13) he acknowledges sins he has committed and is forgiven.
Those carrying a grudge against another person carry a burden as well. It can be a constant source of tension and distress. For those who reconcile with others, it is as though a great weight has been lifted. Far from a concession to another person, reconciliation is a gift we can give ourselves.
If you have a comment or question about this blog entry, email Dr. Roffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Joel Roffman has spoken to many church, synagogue and support groups. His book, Coping with Adversity: Judaism’s response to illness and other life struggles is enjoyable, uplifting and informative. It is meant for people of all faiths and can be viewed at http://www.copingwithadversity.com/. It is available at Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Amazon.com.