To Forgive, Not to Forget

10 Nov

My grandfather held grudges until they died of old age and then had them stuffed and mounted. I’m more of the “I’m degrading you to acquaintance” variety, but recently I’ve been reminded that you can forgive, but you don’t have to forget.

This is the very antithesis of Christian thought–of course, the big J was trying to get his followers to follow the spirit, not the letter of Torah. Some blogger recently posted a quote from the gospels, which was:

But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you,

Matthew 5:44 (KJV)

Forgiving someone “seventy times seven” is attempting to help the one with the grudge, not the one who offended you. The one who offended you doesn’t care that you’re upset at them–otherwise they’d ask forgiveness. You’re the one whose hurt. By forgiving your enemies, you’re able to let go of the pain and move on. In the modern Jewish tradition, you’re asked to forgive, NOT to forget. In fact, one of the more obscure commandments is:

Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.

Deuteronomy 25:17-19 (KJV)

Why is Amalek mentioned? If your job is to blot out the remembrance of Amalek, then shouldn’t it have been removed in the Torah? Why not, “wipe out the remembrance of… that guy. You know, the bad dude?” Before you say, “They couldn’t redact sacred scripture,” I’d say, “They already did. Multiple times.” Start at Exodus 4:24 and convince me that part of that story isn’t missing. Song of Miriam? Cut down to one verse. Two creation stories? I can go on all day…

But that’s a blog for a different day. What I want focus on is in the Jewish tradition, you can forgive, but only if the person who offended you asks for forgiveness. Hitler never asked forgiveness from the Jewish people, therefore he can never be forgiven. And if you feel guilty about what you did to someone, then you go to that person, and if they don’t accept your apology, you ask it again… and after the third time, you’re done. You’ve tried, you’re done.

But although you can forgive, you don’t have to forget. You don’t have to put yourself in a position where that person can hurt you again. You don’t have to be buddies with Amalek–in fact, the tradition is that the reason the Torah says you need to blot out the name Amalek is because Amalek exists in every generation. There’s always someone out to get you. It’s up to you to stop them.

Paranoid? Sure. But as Joseph Heller said, “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you.” It’s up to us to recognize the different unintentional hurt (I will never buy Gillette razors ever again because of their pompous scree on toxic masculinity) and intentional. Between those that want to hurt us and those that don’t mean to. That’s why the day before Yom Kippur, Jews ask forgiveness of their neighbors and friends, because it’s easy to forget what you’ve done or said that hurt people. It’s up to you to forgive AND not forget.

How does this match with what you believe? I’ve got some choice Koranic verses about forgiveness, but I’m not well-versed (drum hit) in it. Let me know in the comments below.

One Response to “To Forgive, Not to Forget”

  1. Jane Tawel November 10, 2020 at 9:39 am #

    Indeed. In fact the God of the Word tells us to Remember. Remember that I, YHWH, have saved you from (then follows a list of the bad people and bad things. But forgivenss means you don’t continue to hold it against someone, you move on indeed as needed, but you let them move on as well. That’s the tough part, not seeking revenge, even if only in our minds. That is when forgiveness is important for us, not the other. Good post and good thoughts here. Thank you. Jane

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Tales from a broken doll

Short stories, poetry, musings and rambling.

Poteci de dor

"Adevărul, pur şi simplu, e rareori pur şi aproape niciodată simplu" - Oscar Wilde

O Miau do Leão

Uma pequena voz da Flandres

A Life's Journey

Little things matter 🌼


A dreamer, who loves to muse her world and penned it down✍️ Each words in this blog lay close to my soul🧡

Talkin' to Myself

I'm listening

Nature Whispering

From Sunset to Dawn

Riverside Peace

Discover how God works through his creation and Scripture to show us his love.

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

Looking to God

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)


We may see things that we don't even imagine.

Decaf White

No Sugar


Mere khayal aap tak..

The Haute Mommy Handbook

Motherhood Misadventures + Creative Living

Hangaku Gozen

For we cannot tarry here, We must march my darlings

A Cornered Gurl

I am more than breath & bones.

%d bloggers like this: