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Reconciliation, an Ethical Encounter with our Fellow Human

January 2, 2022

Rabbi Geier


BS"D || Rabbi Geier

Reconciliation, an Ethical Encounter with our Fellow Human

In our tradition, in the Torah, we have a variety of stories of anger, reconciliation, encounters and disagreements.

It is as if we were warned about the human condition of living in  disagreement and in seeking agreement with our fellow man.

From the beginning, immediately after creation in the Garden of Eden the first couple of humans did not know how to take advantage of and make use of the anger shown by God. It is interesting that in this case, the new beginning had to do with forgiveness by the Creator, who practiced it with Adam and Eve with a new beginning. Also, outside that paradise, it repeats again after the Deluge. Certainly, this episode of the Mabul (flood) is quite strange at this point, as the guilts are cleansed without assumed responsibilities.

And everything begins again...

Let’s take a great leap forward in history to one of our patriarchs who assumes his own guilt regarding his actions in the past towards his father and especially towards his brother.

Yaakov learns and takes responsibility for his mistakes and pays. He pays with the distance from his paternal home; he pays with the deception suffered at the hands of his future father-in-law; he pays by taking care of an unwanted wife until he gets the one he desired. Yaakov understands and improves his own being and understands that he must correct his actions. He must face his brother Esau, from whom he stole his birthright and paternal blessing. He senses that it will not be easy.

Esau's forgiveness is strange. The brothers find themselves in an atmosphere that seems to be one of tragedy and yet they embrace and part ways in peace. Each one headed to his own destiny. There is no claim. It seems that the mere  fact for the change in Yaakov’s behavior is what motivated the same in Esau.  There are so many types of forgiveness, some with reconciliation ... others that do not.

Julia Kristeva, a Bulgarian linguist, speaks of a starting over and, in this sense, “forgiveness is an event that invites a new beginning.”

Jacques Derrida, a Jewish philosopher of Algerian origin, says: “something has to happen in the subject when forgiving, an interior movement.”

Hanna Arendt, a Jewish philosopher of German origin, in relation to the Shoah, affirms that one can forgive and judge whoever took charge and responsible for the acts he committed, that is, who is questioned and thinks about what he did. This brings up the case of Eichman, who when questioned in his trial about his criminal acts, responds that he controlled the punctuality of the trains.

Jacques Lacan, French physician and psychoanalyst says: “The mistake of good faith is the most unforgivable of all" and "What you do knows what you are.”

Sigmund Freud, Jewish doctor and father of psychoanalysis, of Austrian origin, in an interview declares: “To understand everything is not to forgive everything. We can support, avoid and eliminate what must be eliminated.” And he adds “my language is German, my culture and my fulfillment is German until I noticed the growth of the anti-Semitic prejudice in Germany and Austria. Since then, I prefer to be Jewish. ”

That is THE image of reconciliation. The one in which there is surely guilt, but it is assumed and reviewed and motivates a change that allows forgiveness to exist. Forgiveness and reconciliation. We need both together. We need both to grow.  We need to achieve more united and just societies and communities. Let’s leave false pride aside and put our hands together to work and understand each other.

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