Q: My father is a religious man. He attends synagogue every Fri. night and Saturday. Lights candles, reads torah, but is also a man who is a pedophile. He sexually abused me nightly for eight years. I've had to work through my anger and pain on my dollar, and without any assistance from him. He denies his actions and will not speak of it. Every Rosh Hashana he calls and begs me to go to synagogue with him. I will not. My question is.. If there is a god, will he/she/? forgive him?? And how do I forgive god for bringing me into this horrifying experience of childhood. Am I supposed to believe that everything has its reason?
A: You are certainly entitled to never forgive this man who caused you such pain. As for whether God will forgive your father, I just don't know. Our tradition holds that somewhere, somehow, there is and will be divine, exact justice for all sins and crimes in this world. But how this judgment will be exacted is beyond me--or any other human being. All I can tell you is that I believe that the spiritual fate after death of any victim of a crime cannot be the same as the perpetrator of that crime. I desperately want to believe that the evil suffer for their crimes, whether in this world or somehow after this life. While I may not see this justice exacted, I certainly want to believe that God will ultimately seek recompense for all sins and crimes committed by humanity. While our tradition holds that God is merciful, justice is a far greater priority--this is how the Jewish tradition understands God.
Copyright (c) 1998 by Rabbi Daniel Kohn. All Rights Reserved.