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Only G-d can truly repair the effects of transgression.

Hear Us, Forgive Us

Hear Us, Forgive Us

Hear Us, Forgive Us
Only G-d can truly repair the effects of transgression.

On the Saturday night preceding Rosh Hashanah , at midnight, Ashkenazic Jewry begins to recite the Selichot prayers.

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

Final Selichot, Erev Yom Kippur, 2AM, Sept.17,2010, Western Wall (photo credit: Gutman Locks)
Final Selichot, Erev Yom Kippur, 2AM, Sept.17,2010, Western Wall (photo credit: Gutman Locks)
Only "Selicha" can denote absolute forgiveness…

Each one has of course, its special meaning and represents a unique form of rectification. 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 G‑d bears it and suffers with it. "He erases iniquity", means that G‑d 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 is only used by G‑d himself and never between one person and another. A person cannot repair something as if it was never ruined. Only G‑d can give absolute forgiveness so that the transgression is forgiven as if it never occurred.

[Adapted from Sefer HaCarmel of the Malbim, "Selach" by Binyomin Adliman]

Rabbi Meir Leibush, the Malbim (1809-1879) Rav and Biblical commentator. Malbim is an acronym of his name, Meir Leibush ben Yechiel Michel.
Binyomin Adilman is the former head of the Nishmas Chayim Yeshivah in Jerusalem. Back issues of his weekly Parsha sheet B’Oholei Tzadikim, from which this article was taken, may be found on
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Levi Rapoport Brooklyn October 13, 2014

attn Anonymous Mesa, USA Don't mourn the past; Celebrate the future! :) Reply

rut via September 21, 2014

G-d Repair Transgressions Thank you Levi Rapoport from NY for your support. It is good to find such supporting family of G-d. That is how I see you. But every Shabbat, I cry. I ask Hashem, to forgive me for crying on Shabbat. But this is the day I feel His Presence, strongest of other times. As a woman, who usually cry when sad, and happy. That is our flaw, I am pretty sure any woman would agree with me... I am so sorry that I was not raised in a Jewish way. That I did not know Him. I only knew the gods I was taught to know, and children believe everything they are told. Now, at 66, I feel that so many years lost in ignorance. And my sins are right in front of my face. I will never be able to erase them. But Hashem,. blessed be He, in His infinite mercy, has looked on to me with favor. But as my love increases, so does my heart, and soul suffer for the years of ignorance. How blessed are those called Jews who worship Him and know Him from birth. They do not know what they have. Count your blessings! Reply

Levi Rapoport NY September 15, 2014

attn Anonymous Mesa, USA The idea of the sin being "constantly before me" despite propper repentance is an expression of deisre to come ever closer to G-d. As we are granted basic forgiveness and with it a closer relationship with G-d, we then "graduate" to a greater appreciation of what that relationship is, its dearness, and the tragedy of weakening it. We then are moved to not be sattisified with our "basic repair" and seek to attain a more "lofty" forgiveness, and with it a deeper relationship. This gives us again a new appreciation of what that relationship is, and the process continues etc. Hence: "My sin is constantly before me". Smile G-d loves you :) Have an Awesome year. Reply

Anonymous Mesa, USA via August 26, 2013

Hear Us, Forgive Us How do we know when G-d has forgiven us? I feel like David Melech: My sins are always before me. Although I know that when we repent with a sincere heart, and mind, He forgives us. The past is always there, specially when there are those who reminds us every day of the things done to us and what we did. I rejoice in G-d's eternal loving kindness. But the sins of my ancestors, who also made us sin, cause much frustration and pain. Reply

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