The Quality of Mercy: on the Duty to Forgive in the Judaic Tradition

Journal of Religious Ethics 15 (2):155 - 172 (1987)
This article examines the view of forgiveness expounded in the classical Jewish sources. It is shown that traditional rabbinic authorities regarded the duty of one individual to forgive another as conditional upon the repentance of the offender, who has a prior duty to seek forgiveness from the person harmed. These same authorities appear to have extended the duty to forgive, in theory at least, to all offenses regardless of their severity. The religious underpinnings of this view are explored and contrasted with the model of forgiveness presented in Paul Lauritzen's paper. The author concludes that the Judaic view of forgiveness as a moral imperative has been shaped decisively by the beliefs in a compassionate God whom we have a duty to emulate and in the special cove- nantal relationship established between this God and Israel.
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Louis E. Newman (2013). Balancing Justice and Mercy. Journal of Religious Ethics 41 (3):435-456.
Daniel Philpott (2013). The Justice of Forgiveness. Journal of Religious Ethics 41 (3):400-416.

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