Forgiveness from Jewish Sources


What is forgiveness?  Do we have to forgive?  What and who do we forgive?  Why do we forgive?  Why is forgiveness so hard?  Is forgiveness even possible?

We will consider these and other questions by looking at and discussing Jewish sources.  Sources will include Torah, Talmud and rabbinic writings–with a tiny bit of recent philosophy thrown in just for fun.

All source materials will be linked to this webpage.  Please revisit this page at your leisure to view sources as they are added.

Sundays, August 23, August 30 and September 6 at 3:00 p.m.

Dr. Deborah Achtenberg

Black and white graphic of the whale with Jonah inside

Artwork by Rabbi Yonah Lavery-Yisraeli

The LORD came down in a cloud; He stood with him there, and proclaimed the name LORD.  The LORD passed before him and proclaimed:  “The LORD! the LORD! a God compassionate (rachum) and gracious (chanun), slow to anger (erech apayim), abounding in kindness (chesed) and faithfulness (emet), extending kindness (chesed) to the thousandth generation, forgiving (noseh) iniquity (avon), transgression (pesha), and sin (chet); yet He does not remit all punishment, but visits the iniquity (avon) of fathers upon children and children’s children, upon the third and fourth generations.”

Moses hastened to bow low to the ground in homage, and said, “If I have gained your favor, O Lord, pray, let the Lord go in our midst even though this is a stiffnecked people. Pardon (salachta) our iniquity (la’avonenu) and our sin (ulchatatenu), and take us for Your own!”

 (Exodus 34.5-7 JPS) (Sefaria)


Forgiveness    (printable copy)

Justice and mercy   (printable copy)

Sin   (printable copy)

Repentance and forgiveness (narrative) (printable copy)

Philosophers on forgiveness   (printable copy)

(click on green text for links to sources; please revisit this page for more sources as they are added)