It's the time of year where forgiveness is the rule. After all, as Chazal puts it, if you don't forgive, don't expect to be forgiven (paraphrase).
It's not always so easy. I'm generally a pretty forgiving person, to a fault many would say. Major wrongs were forgiven with the same ease as peccadillos were.
I finally figured out that isn't how the world turns. Sins committed peer-to-peer have a process of absolution the same way that they do person-to-God. The steps shouldn't be as difficult peer-to-peer but nevertheless, it has to be done. Recognition that a wrong was committed, regret, commit to a change of ways.
I was talking to a close friend the other day and he told something frightening: he had come to terms with not forgiving his parents for various matters and problems. Ouch.
For myself, there have been times where I've told myself to "hold strong" and not back down. Not forgive someone for an offense done to me. Every year, without fail, I've "cracked" and forgiven each and every person.
To me, the calculation is as follows: I've royally messed up in more ways than I can count. I really want to be forgiven. The more forgiving I am, the more forgiving Hashem will be to me.
On the other hand, being forgiving is not always easy. Sometimes I'll say the words (aloud) in the hopes that what's in my heart is overlooked. I don't know if that works, but I hope so. I think I once heard that as the explanation for the "token" asking of everyone to forgive you. If the words are stated, it counts. I don't know if it erases it completely, but hey, it's a start.
I don't know what the Torah's opinion is on the idea of not forgiving, but the Shulchan Aruch Harav discusses the importance of forgiving an individual who is sincerely remorseful. Ah, what about someone who isn't? Far be it from me to have the answer. I suspect it can't hurt though to forgive anyone and everyone who has ever hurt you. It's probably helpful to have on your score card when it comes to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. "Hashem, I forgave anyone who has ever hurt me, betrayed me, lied to me, insulted me, etc. etc. etc., please forgive me for doing the same and worse." I like the sound of that. No, it's not a catchall, but it's a start.
With that thought, I have a revised quote for you. While forgiving, perhaps, is a must, forgetting is not. The original quote is by Thomas S. Szasz, a psychiatrist and academic who died almost a year ago. Seems like a smart person.
"The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget." --Szasz. I'm of the opinion that the quote needs to be modified quite a bit, as only the stupid would forgive everything without justification for doing so. "The stupid neither forgive the action nor forget who did it; the naive forgive the action and forget who did it; the wise forgive the action but do not forget the action, nor who did it." --L&F
Words hurt more than sticks. That truth has been beaten into us for many years now. Online, it's difficult to hurt someone in ways beyond words. With words though, it's easy, perhaps too easy. Not having to ever meet the person being offended or attacked, harsh, derogatory and condescending words flow easier.
I initially wrote that I had never purposefully intended to hurt someone with words. I realized that's not true, to my regret. During a debate, I insulted a fellow by the name of Yishmael. I do not agree with his opinions or thoughts on several matters, but that does not excuse the words I used or the thoughts conveyed. I insulted him in a public place, and therefore he owes a public apology. Yishmael, I apologize for my hurtful words (regardless of whether you took them to heart) and hope to never do so again.
To the rest of you, I apologize if I have insulted you, offended you, or done anything that has left you hurt. As my ability to write progresses, I hope that I learn to be more careful with words written and the way they are understood.
If you feel I have offended you in a way that you would like to address with me directly, my email is email@example.com.
Kesivah v'chasima tova.
May you all have a year full of simcha, bracha, growth in ruchnius and gashmius, hatzlacha, and parnasa. For those that it's applicable to, may this be the year you find your zivug.