Sunday, July 14, 2013

Does a victim have to forgive abuser if he asks three times?

UPDATE: I was recently asked regarding the well known halacha that if someone who has hurt another in various ways -  asks the victim three times to forgive and and the victim refuses - then the sinner is automatically forgiven and the victim becomes the sinner for bearing a grudge and holding on to hatred. It is claimed that this applies also to sexual abuse and furthermore that automatic forgiveness after 3 requests happens even if the abuser is not sincere in his apology! The simple answer is that according to most poskim it isn't so. Let me go through the sources.
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 Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 606:1) based on the Rambam states: "Sins between men are not atoned by Yom Kippur but require that the victim be placated. This is true even if the sin was just verbal abuse.  If the victim is not placated by the first apology then the sinner should return two and even three times. Each time he should bring 3 men with him. If the victim is not placated after the 3 apology then the sinner is not required apology to him again but should go before 10 men and ask for forgiveness. However if the victim of his abuse is his teacher then it is necessary to continue going to him many times until he is placated. Rema: The victim should not be cruel and refuse to forgive unless he refuses because he thinks it is beneficial to the one asking forgiveness [or to himself - Mishna Berura]. However if the sinner slandered him then it is not necessary to forgive him [and he is not considered cruel - Taz].

However we find elsewhere in the Shulchan Aruch regarding physically hurting another that there is no mention of apology - but that the judges force the assailant to placate the victim and that includes significant monetary payments. No mention is made of automatic forgiveness after asking three times but rather there is a requirement to pay money and the assailant is placed in cherem until it is paid - and this is not dependent on whether the apology is accepted..  

Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 1:2): In the case of a man who hit another person, the judges lack the true semicha of Israel and therefore can not collect payment for nezek, tzar, pgam, boshes and kofer. However they can collect sheves and ripoi. Rema: And some say that even sheves and ripoi can not be collected anymore (Tur citing the Rosh). However I have not seen anybody observering this restriction. The standard procedure is that the judges force the assailant to placate the victim and the exact punishments according to that which seems appropriate to them.

Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 1:5): Even though that judges without the true semicha can not collect fines nevertheless they place the assailant in cherem until he placates the victim. As soon as he gives the victim an amount which appropriate then he is released from cherem  (and this is true whether or not the victim has been placated). Alternatively if the victim himself forcibly takes that amount of money that is appropriate for him - the judges don't take it away from him. [...]

Thus at least according to the Rema - physical assault does not have to be forgiven by the victim but the assailant is forced to pay that which the judges think is appropriate. Similarly slander does not have to be forgiven. That is because slander is difficult to undo since not everyone who heard the slander heard the apology. Finally, if the victim thinks it is beneficial either to himself or the assailant [Mishna Berura] not to forgive - he has the right not to forgive.

Furthermore the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch seem to go against the Yoma (23a) as pointed about by the Minchas Chinuch (241:1): Do not take revenge - Look at the Rambam (Hilchos De’os 7:7). However in Yoma (23a) it explains that this prohibition only applies in monetary matters but not matters involving bodily pain there is no prohibition of not taking revenge or not being spiteful. In the case of bodily pain it is only an act of piety not to hold a grudge. But the Rambam and also the Chinuch omit mentioning of this distinction and in fact it appears that they hold that one transgresses the prohibitions in all cases and this is a contraction to the gemora. Also look at the Rambam (Hilchos Talmid Torah 7:13) where he states that a talmid chachom that has been publicly embarrassed should take revenge and hold a grudge. See also the Kesef Mishna and the Lechem Mishna. Nevertheless no one commits a sin for taking revenge for personal suffering. I found in the Semag (11-12) who states that for personal suffering one does not transgress the prohibition of revenge and that this is learned from Yoma (23a).
[Updated section ]
It is apparently also the view of the Mishna Berura (156:4) that the prohibition of revenge and bearing a grudge applies only to monetary issues

Therefore the question remains why the Rambam and the Chinuch apparently rule contrary to the gemora.
Rabbi Dovid Castle states in his excellent source book (To live Among Friends 28.42 page 913): "Most Poskim maintain that the sins of taking revenge and of bearing a grudge apply only to offenses related to monetary issues, such as refusal to lend something, but not to physical pain which includes degradation, lashon hara and embarrassment. For such matters bearing a grudge and taking revenge are permitted even if the offenses were not committed in your presence. For these matters it is only a measure of extreme piety not to bear a grudge or take revenge, but not an obligation. "
 More relevant to the question of how the Rambam and Chinuch can ignore Yoma (23a) Rabbi Castle  notes (28.47 page 926) [that even though the Chinuch prohibits revenge and grudges even for physical offenses the Chinuch (#338) also states that the Torah does not expect one to remain like a stone]. "Some say that everyone forbids taking revenge even for physical pain and embarrassment, but everyone permits bearing a grudge in such cases [of physical assault] because it is too much to demand from a person not to bear a grudge in such situations...." [He has much additional discussion in his chapter 28 on "Returning Hatred, Gruge, Revenge" pages 877-1043]

Thus it is possible to understand that everyone - including the Rambam and the Chinuch - do not require forgiveness for non monetary abuse when it is too difficult. However that is only while the pain or embarrassment is still being experienced.  However when the pain subsides and the victim is able to forgive - then it is possible that he will accept a sincere apology in order not to be cruel. Obviously if the apology is not sincere there is no need to consider it. With sexual abuse that time might never happen.

In sum: The requirement to forgive after three sincere requests therefore only apply to monetary issues where the victim doesn't experience serious emotional upset and trauma. In the case of non-monetary issues in addition there is the requirement for compensation which is required whether or not the victim forgives.

14 comments :

  1. "Rabbi" S. Cohen of Porat Yosef/ Shas has just called the entire dati Leumi Kehilla "amalek", and declared they should be wiped out.
    When such vile Ahmadinejadists are "roshei yeshiva", what exactly can be expected for the orthodox world.

    Lehavdil, Rav Shach ztl, who was a true Gadol, made clear he did not oppose any kehilla. Even the hilonim who eat chazir, he asked how Jewish are they and what is wrong with eating beef? In other words, he did not call them goyim, but Jews deprived of Torah practice. he did not ask them to be wiped out.

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  2. can you be a bit more specific about who insists that this applies also to molestation victims even thought the abuser isn't sincere?

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  3. The Rama holds that you don't need real semikhah to impose kenas. Kenasos (fines) could be imposed -- and were imposed under the Vaad 4 Aratzos -- to dissuade repeats of the sin by the same person or by others. So, a beis din could fine someone for damages. The 5 avos are a good starting point for assessing such damages and then they can even add punitive damages if the sin is one that the person or society has made too common. So the lack of authority to impose damages for neziqin has no pragmatic outcome, since they can fine the same amount or more anyway.

    More interesting to me is if it's legitimate to generalize from "bodily pain" to "personal suffering" where the pain is due to pscyhological damage.

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    Replies
    1. any non monetary issue involving the person has the same status regarding the issue of bearing a grudge - whether it is shaming through slander and lashon harah, beating, or sexual abuse.

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  4. Some clarity in HalachaJuly 14, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    The entire premise is a mistake and a misrepresentation of the Halacha - that is to say:

    "that if someone who has hurt another in various ways - asks the victim three times to forgive and and the victim refuses - then the sinner is automatically forgiven and the victim becomes the sinner for bearing a grudge and holding on to hatred."

    This is a grossly incorrect statement which has no reliable source. What it does say is that when someone has wronged another:

    "Tzarich Lefaisso" which translates "He must appease him"

    This means that he must do what it takes and what is appropriate to make amends for what he has done. This, of course means that the appeasement must fit the offense. It would not be considered PIUS to offer something relatively small after having caused significant pain or damage. To do so would be a clear indication that the aggressor does not fathom the gravity of his transgression and has no TRUE remorse. But to simply ask the injured party to forgive in absence of appropriate appeasement is by nature insincere. Moreover, it is a Chutzpah and just a continuation of the original offense to add insult to injury in this way - after causing someone to suffer, to then relentlessly, shamelessly and remorselessly make a further demand and put the onus on the victim.

    When one reasonably and appropriately appeases the victim, then the victim is obligated to be appease-able.

    From this point you can continue your Halachic discussion with all of the PRATEI HADIN.

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  5. NEFESH NESHAMA VEHAGUFJuly 14, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    @ MB

    Ki chol levov davoy, vechol rosh Locholi.

    The brain is also a physical part of the body. Indeed, it is the most important part of the body, and that's where all the pains lead to. Such damage of molesting somebody, is one of the most crucial inflictions one can do. DOUBLY so, when done to a minor. The innocent child feels helpless, the ra Banim stack the deck against them, playing the "blame the victim game". The child cries chay vekayam, "OBER ES IZ AZOY GEVEIN", only to be squelched that he is lying, all this, in order to save face of the PERPETRATOR and his family, for Shidduchim reasons of for the lechol haruchot reasons. Hey, and what about the victims family, are they expendable. Why are they expendable, just because you can???
    All this for appetizers. And now for the main dish.

    The pain of the NEFESH, the pain of the NESHAMA, and the pain of the GUF, remain with the victim for the life of whatever remaining time they might have left. The scars are so deep, that it is almost impossible to heal, maybe partially if any. The pain is SOOOO fierce, that the victims resort to drugs to numb away the unbearable pain. SOOOO many times, not even that helps, they R"L are meabed atzman ladaat, to rid themselves of their pain, suffering and misery, to end it all. These are facts on the ground that R"L the poor Mother, the Father and Family witnessed kulay hay, and will testify to anyone that still doesn't want to believe, or more likely these so called non-believers are in denial Out of convenience. Hashem knows it, you know it, and the whole Klall Yisrael knows it. The least you can do to console them, is to sympathise with them, "Vayaniu Rosh". Hazos baneinu, Hazos benoysenu, Oy me haya lanu? Oy Oy Oy Allelay li, Mar li bechayay. Then come the Enablers, following them the Intimidators, to pour more salt on the wounds etc. etc. etc. SHOMU SHAMAYIM!!! HALEZOS HIGANU. V'ANI ANA ANI VA???

    DO you still ponder and question if it's legitimate to generalize from "bodily pain" to "personal suffering" where the pain is due to psychological damage? My Tayer kind, it is ALL ONE PAIN AND SUFFERING FROM HEAD TO TOE, mikaf raglo ad kodkedo ein bo messom, SPIRITUAL, vegam PHYSICAL, vegam PSHYCHOLOGICAL, KOL KULO MIKSHA ECHOS HU, fershteist? The TZAAR is real, the AGMAT NEFESH is real, the SHIVREI LEV is real, DAVOY is real, CHOLI is real, the BODILY pain is real, the SUFFERING is real, the KOL BECHI is real, the ENDLESS TEARS are ALLLL real. The only thing left is the " DEAFENING SOUNDS OF SILENCE" treatment that is UNREAL!!! TAYERE G-TENYU, ICH BET DICH, BAHIT UNZ.

    DAYN FOLK YISRAEL.

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    1. Again, it's arka'os, and the 5 forms of nezeq aren't relavent without true semikhah -- but it does allow us to get a decent sense of what kind of kenas is fair. Still, tzaar isn't boshes, and conflating the two is a perspective on human pain that differs from the one implied by the halakhah.

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    2. aka hanshama shebemochi etc.July 15, 2013 at 6:17 PM

      The gedoilei Uposkei HaDor, The beth Din hagadol shebeYerushalayim all rely on tshuvat Ha"Rashba urging to go to Arkaot on such matters, no questions asked. Furthermore, it is INDEED " Dina demalchutei Dina ", that rules, and whatever they allocate monetary damages, compensatory damages, and Punitive damages for pain and suffering etc., whether Psychological, Physical or otherwise, according to the law of the Land, in WHICHEVER country it so happens to be. Smicha and knass in today's world, is totally irrelevant and has no play in these matters. This should put a final rest to such queries.

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    3. 1- Do you have sourcves for any of that? Because it's likely you and I do not agree on who are today's gedolei haposqim.

      2- As I said, it's arka'os, and hilkhos nezer aren't strictly relevant. You're arguing against a point I too deny in my first sentence. Still (as I continue that sentence), we need to know if dina demalkhusa is "fair" by our standards. I believe it could well be, but unlike your original argument, not because I decided to redefine tza'ar by conflating physical pain with emotional (or "pain of the neshamah") as you put it.

      The bigger problem is that in dina demalkhusa the victim sets the starting negotiating point for punitive damages. In fact, that phrase makes no sense -- either we're making him pay for damages or we're going beyond that to punish the guy (and thereby dissuade future offenders, etc... everything else punishment is about). Kenas is punitive, but doesn't pretend to be about damages. I'm not saying that a court wouldn't pick a similarly high sum to get YU and instutitions like it to stand up and listen. But we need an objectively meaningful sum, not one chosen by the people in pain.

      Being required to follow dina demalkhusa doesn't mean being required to believe it's equitable.

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    4. Yikov haDin @ HaharJuly 17, 2013 at 6:25 PM

      @ YZ



      1) The sources are:

      R' Moshe Halbershtam Z"L,
      R' Meir Brandsdorfer Z"L,
      R' Moshe Sternbuch Y'B'L,
      Poskei hador:
      R' Chaim Kanievsky Shlita,
      R' S. Elyiashiv Z"L,
      to name a few. They
      "ALL"
      quote the specific Tshuvat HaRASHB"A ( Ve'ein lachlok alav) of which has been quoted in toto by Harav Daniel Eidensohn N'Y' Veyizrach, on this very blog.

      2)From these Moire HaRo'oh beYisrel above mentioned, Dina deMalchusse Dina IS fair, at least bemfurash in Israel and the USA as well as most developed countries. Only THEY are equipped to deal with such matters and cases. The others, not only are they clueless, they actively hinder such cases bezadon R"L. Becherposeinu, we have seen that BeAlil for decades. They have yet to show one case they have dealt with / truthfully / resolved Betzedek Tzedek Tirdof!!!

      The nomenclature and Criteria of compensation is based on the law of the land ( in accordance with the RASHB'A ), whichever way you slice it. We do have a Democratic Justice & Jury System to make it as fair and equitable as humanely possible. "Dina Demalchusse Dina" gives the right for the VICTIM to sue for whatever and and as much as the Law of the Land allows, and then of course the Jury kicks in, and the JUDGE has the LAST WORD, he decides to APPROVE of what seems fit and what IS considered EQUITABLE & FAIR. Remember, that USA IS a malchus shel chesed that the founding fathers ironed and hammered out, that no other country in the world can so boast. As far as YU or any and ALL mosdos, are culpable for the damages acheinu bnei Yisrael have suffered at their hands. NO one has been able to put back such matters AL TILAH, becherposeinu, asides Dina Demalchusse. And as the Gedolei uPoskei hador have Paskened, so be it, Yikov haDin @ HaHar, and let the chips fall where they may, vehakol yavo al mekomo beShalom, amen.
      I firmly believe that I have covered all bases of your concerns.

      Shalom vechol Tuv

      Delete
    5. Yikov haDin @ haHarJuly 17, 2013 at 11:08 PM

      @ MB


      1) The sources are: R' Moshe Halbershtam Z"L,
      R' Meir Brandsdorfer Z"L,
      R' Moshe Sternbuch Y'B'L,

      Poskei hador:
      R' Chaim Kanievsky Shlita,
      R' S. Elyiashiv Z"L,
      to name a few. They
      "ALL"
      quote the specific Tshuvat HaRASHB"A ( Ve'ein lachlok alav) of which has been quoted in toto by Harav Daniel Eidensohn N'Y' Veyizrach, on this very blog.

      2) By the above mentioned, Dina deMalchusse Dina IS fair, at least bemfurash in Israel and the USA as well as most developed countries. Only THEY are equipped to deal with such matters and cases. The others, not only are they clueless, they actively hinder such cases bezadon R"L. Becherposeinu, we have seen that BeAlil for decades. They have yet to show one case they have dealt with / truthfully / resolved Betzedek Tzedek Tirdof!!!

      The nomenclature and Criteria of compensation is based on the law of the land ( in accordance with the RASHB'A ), whichever way you slice it. We do have a Democratic Justice & Jury System to make it as fair and equitable as humanely possible. "Dina Demalchusse Dina" gives the right for the VICTIM to sue for whatever and and as much as the Law of the Land allows, and then of course the Jury kicks in, and the JUDGE has the LAST WORD, he decides to APPROVE of what IS considered EQUITABLE & FAIR. Remember, that USA IS a malchus shel chesed that the founding fathers ironed and hammered out, that no other country in the world can so boast. As far as YU or any and ALL mosdos are culpable for the damages acheinu bnei Yisrael have suffered at their hands. NO one has been able to put back such matters AL TILAH, becherposeinu, asides Dina Demalchusse. And as the Gedolei uPoskei hador have Paskened, so be it, Yikov haDin @ HaHar, and let the chips fall where they may, vehakol yavo al mekomo beShalom, amen.
      I firmly believe that I have covered all bases of your concerns.

      Shalom vechol Tuv

      Delete
  6. A Yasher Koach eich!!! Klal Yisroel NEEDS to hear this.

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  7. In the case of financial oppression, I presume that mechilah is only necessary if the perpetrator has financially compensated the victim. Where the perpetrator has not compensated the victim we say in one of the tefillahs for the yomim noro'im that one does not need to forgive someone whom one can still toveah in bais din.

    so all those rashante women in arko'oys do not need to be forgiven at all.

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  8. How many abusers ask forgiveness -- sincerely, with recognition and understanding of the pain and damage they have caused (and without the purpose of mitigating their sentences after conviction) -- even once?

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