Mishne Tora , Hilkhot Teshuba: Chapter 2, Halakha 10.
“It is forbidden for a person to be cruel and refuse to forgive … when someone approaches him asking forgiveness, he must forgive him with all his heart and with a positive spirit … without seeking revenge or hold a grudge … this it is the attitude of the descendants of Israel [zera ‘Israel] “
The days of Elul are days of Teshuba. I have to apologize to HaShem for any transgression that I could have done against His Tora, voluntarily or involuntarily.
I must also apologize to my colleagues, friends and family for any offenses or damage I could have caused.
And I have to be willing to forgive.
True “forgiveness” includes the ability to forget. I must remember the lessons I’ve learned from all my negative experiences, which will help me to grow emotionally. But I must do everything possible to erase the desire for revenge, resentment, and feelings of hatred that might be nesting inside me, and which I’m not realizing.
Forgiving does not mean that I justify the bad or terrible things that another person did to me or told me. It does not mean that I have to suppress all my feelings or thoughts about the bitter experience. What it does mean is that when I forgive, I take emotional distance from what happened and rescue the positive elements I’ve learned.
I must realize that when I do not forgive, I’m causing great harm to myself. If I do not remove from my mind the feelings of animosity toward the offender, I’m allowing that person –his image and the negative memories associated with him– to hijack my feelings, my thoughts and my heart (in some cases: my entire life!). When I do not forgive, in some cases and without realizing it, I’m perpetuating myself in the role of a victim, and I do not allow myself to move on. Or worse, unconsciously I might turn my resentment into anger, and thus I would become and irritable person. Everything and everyone makes me angry and makes me lose my patience…
It is true that forgiveness is good for the one who offended me because I am generously offering him or her the opportunity for reconciliation. But surely, who benefits most from forgiveness is ME, the victim, the one who was offended. By forgiving, I get rid of my self-destructive feelings; I begin to heal mentally, and I regain control of my emotional stability.
Forgiving is a very complex psychological act, and sometimes it is emotionally arduous. But in these days of Teshuba, when I’m asking HaShem to grant me His forgiveness, I must be willing to forgive those who have offended me.
I cannot expect be forgiven by God if I’m not able to forgive others
(Clarification: in this Halakha I’m referring to forgiving minor offenses, in particular, social grievances. That is, when a friend, a family member or a neighbor, said something negative about me or did something that hurt me or offended me, etc. I’m referring to crimes, acts of terrorism, etc.)