Why is it so hard to forgive? We have each committed sins, we all need to be forgiven, yet for many who have been hurt, it is a great struggle to forgive.
One reason is that to forgive means giving up one’s superiority. As long as I bear a grudge, I am better than you — you hurt me, you acted badly, and I am more moral and kinder than you are. But if I forgive you, truly forgive you, then I must restore moral parity; I am no better than you. We are equal again.
Therefore, we are not supposed to remind others that we forgave them. Reminding someone of your own magnanimity is rescinding the essence of forgiveness — it is over, all is balanced and the hurt is in the past.
The new year is a chance to renew our commitment to forgive those who have wronged us. Not only does a grudge poison the one who holds it, but true largeness of soul is reflected not in the need to feel oneself better, but to help others feel restored and renewed.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book is “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press).