Ask the Rabbi

  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • Repentance and Forgiveness



Rabbi David Sperling

Elul 26, 5781
How do we get forgiveness of sins for a particular sin? What did Daniel do when there was no temple? I noticed at the golden calf sin, Moses was able to intercede for the people, but even though they werent all dead straight away, God gave them their agreed death penalty for breaking the covenant later on in the wilderness. Job 33:32-24 seems to think that someone can mediate on anothers behalf to redeem him - what are your thoughts to this possibility? Job 33:23 "If there is for him an angel, a mediator, one among a thousand, who can vouch for the mans uprightness; Job 33:24 then [God] is gracious to him and says, Redeem him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom.
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Forgiveness is a major theme in Judaism – as well as repentance and return to G-d. In fact, the ability to attain forgiveness, and to return to G-d is the very basis of our personal, and national, life. For there is no one who does not sin. The major idea of attaining forgiveness is the understanding that it depends on the sinner themselves making an effort to regret their wrong actions, and to attempt to change their behavior in the future. To “leave the sin” and depart from it. This is possible for all sin, for all people, in all times. The idea of a mediator is foreign to Jewish thought. The verses you quote from Job refer to one’s good deeds being the “angle” and “mediator” for a person. That is, if one has even one good deed, or mitzvah, this will be a reason for G-d to allow the sinner to continue on their path of (hopefully) attainting the good and proper way. Perhaps you would be interested in learning the Rambam’s (Maimonides) laws of repentance (which can be found in English online). I’m sure you will find it enlighting. Blessings.
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