Hear Us, Forgive Us

Binyomin Adilman
(Based on Sefer HaCarmel of the Malbim, "selach")

This Saturday night, at Jewish midnight, Ashkenazic Jewry begins to recite the Selichos prayers.

There are many different terms used to express forgiveness in the Torah and Rabbinic liturgy. "Yislach", "kapara" (atonement), "nosay avone", (bear iniquity) "ovair al pesha", (forgive transgression) "Nirtzeh avono", (the teshuvah for the iniquity is acceptable) "avonasee macha" (erase my sin) "kabsainee ma'avonee", (cleanse me from iniquity) "may'chatosee taharaynee" (purify me from my sin) and more.

Each one has of course, its special meaning and represents a unique form of a tikkun. For instance when one says, "I have removed from you all your transgression", it infers that the transgressions have a reality of their own, only now they are removed from any association with the person. "Bears iniquity; that the iniquity remains, only Hashem bears it and suffers with it. "He squashes iniquity", means that Hashem represses its effects. But when sin or iniquity is forgiven, then the result is as if the sin never had a existence at all. Selicha means complete forgiveness so that there remains absolutely no trace of the sin. For only Selicha can denote absolute forgiveness.

It is interesting to note therefore, that the word Selicha, in all of the Tanach and is only used by Hashem himself and never between one person and another. A person cannot repair something as if it was never ruined. Only Hashem can give absolute forgiveness so that the transgression is forgiven as if it never occurred.

(First published in B'Ohel Hatzadikim, Ki Tavo 5758)

Rabbi Binyomin Adilman is the head of Nishmas Chayim Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and also the author of a very interesting, but sporadically published, weekly parsha sheet, B'ohelei Tzadikim, from which this article was taken.Their website has some back issues.


Final Selichot, Erev Yom Kippur, 2AM, Sept.17,2010, Western Wall (photo credit: Gutman Locks)


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