"I hereby forgive…” [regarding the Jewish bedtime prayer]

[Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah – Metzora 5771 – translated by R. Blumberg]

“Master of the Universe, I hereby forgive…” even though I may not be required to do so. All the same, I forgive. And even though nobody asked my forgiveness, I still forgive. And even though they are continuing to bother me, I still forgive. And even though I am no saint, but just a simple Jew, I still want to forgive them, so I do it. After all, You, Hashem, forgive me so much, so I should be forgiving as well.

“I hereby forgive everyone who angered and provoked me.” Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten angry. Maybe I didn’t have to feel provoked. Yet even if I was justified in how I felt, I still won’t think too deeply about it. I want to live a simple, pure, clean and wholesome life, without resentment in my heart. Therefore, I forgive.

“Or whoever sinned against me”. It’s a pity for him that he sinned. Poor fellow. Yet apparently I deserved it. Nothing happens by accident. It was from G-d. That fellow was just an emissary for evil. Had it not been him, it would have been someone else. G-d has a lot of emissaries. Obviously, that does not free from responsibility the person who sinned against me, but that doesn’t concern me. Let him make his own calculations directly with G-d. For my part, I forgive him.

“Whether he hurt me physically” – Obviously my body is very precious to me. I know that in the world to come I won’t need it, but here I need it a lot. Yet I won’t let myself fall into a psychological trauma over what he did. Therefore, I forgive him.

"Or monetarily” – Money is not important. It’s not the end of the world. G-d will fill in what I am missing – if He so wishes. Therefore, I forgive.

"Or he insulted my honor” – That really hurts! I’m not one who chases after honor, but it hurts me when I get insulted. Yet for me it’s all the more a matter of honor not to pay attention to every insult. What is “honor” anyway? The main thing is G-d’s honor. And it shows my respect for G-d’s honor that I am forgiving. Therefore, I forgive.

"Or harmed anything I own” – If G-d so wishes, He will make up my loss many times over. I forgive. I love saying those words, “I forgive”.

"Whether he did it inadvertently” – Maybe the person who hurt me was just unfortunate, and had no intention of hurting me. I forgive him. Every single moment, I am ready to be forgiving.

"Or intentionally” – I don’t understand how people can have intentions like these. Therefore, I don’t want to have such intentions myself. That’s not the sort of thing that gives me satisfaction. That’s why I forgive him.

"Or accidentally” – Sure, he should have been more careful, but I forgive him. Master of the Universe, I forgive him! It doesn’t involve forcing myself. It comes naturally to me. I forgive him.

“Or brazenly” – What kind of a person is this? But I don’t care. I forgive him. I’m happy with that. What a wonderful gift you gave me, G-d, that I am capable of forgiving and forgetting, and saying joyfully within myself, “I forgive him.”

"Whether he committed it in word” – Words can sometimes be so aggravating! But for me it’s an opportunity! More, G-d, more! I forgive him!

"Or in deed” – What an unfortunate soul to occupy himself with such things! How I pity him! I therefore forgive him. How happy I am to say, “I forgive him.”

"Whether in the present incarnation” – I don’t know what happened to me in previous incarnations, but in this incarnation I want to be clean and pure, without resentment. G-d, You put everything in order, so I probably deserve this hurt for some reason, as King David said, “G-d told him, ‘Curse David’” (Shmuel 2 16:10). As for me, I forgive him. It’s so good for me to say those words! It’s not just my private affair. It touches on the entire Jewish People. Every sin weighs on the Jewish People. Therefore, once again, “I forgive him!”

"Let no one be punished because of me” – I don’t need it. It’s better for me to remain innocent and pure in this sense. It’s good for me that I forgive and forget. It brings me the greatest happiness. G-d, if You wish to punish him, do so, but it won’t be because of me. Maybe I’ll be happy when it happens, but it won’t be because of me. And maybe I won’t be happy. Whatever happens, I forgive him totally.

I’m no deep thinker. There’s no room in my brain for dissonant emotions, and no room for resentment either. It’s tiring and burdensome. It leaves one feeling sullied. Yes, I forgive him.
Not only do I forgive everyone who sinned against me in the past. In keeping with the custom of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Ha-Cohain Kook, I also forgive everyone who will sin against me in the future.
I derive my happiness from elsewhere. For example, “Happy are those who dwell in Your house” (Tehillim 84:5). Or, for example, “Happy are those who follow the path of perfection” (ibid. 119:1). I will not agree to leave even a drop of resentment in me. It bothers me. The purer I make myself, the happier I am. Whoever hurts me is, himself, the unfortunate one. G-d will have mercy on him, for I, for my part, forgive him. And even if he hurt me, let him not be punished because of me. It’s sad that he should be punished – but there’s no need for me
to explain at length. I love fine fragrances. I love the fine fragrance of Eden. I love Eden. So
I forgive him. Then I go to sleep thinking about Eden.
How good it is that I am forgiving. When I forgive, I feel a lightening. I ascend like a breath of fresh air. Until then I had a stone on my heart and I felt heavy. Now I am light. I feel integrity. I sing.
What a wonderful prayer: “I hereby forgive!” I cannot tear myself away from it! I would say it all night. So I’ll say it until I fall asleep…