The second part of the triad of Levels Ten, Eleven and Twelve refers to how we must forgive people who have a long history of helping others. In the Tenth Level, we examined how we must extend just a little bit more credit to people as a matter of course, regardless of their moral character. In the Eleventh Level, we see how we must go still further to forgive people who habitually put others before themselves. They, like all of us, experience moral challenges and sometimes fail. Their prior demonstrated commitment to helping others, however, means that they deserve an additional measure of mercy. Like the patriarch Abraham, known for his generous hospitality and caring for others, people who behave selflessly earn an additional measure of forgiveness.
There are those whose conduct in this world is beyond the letter of the law, like Abraham our father, and God treats them beyond the letter of the law. God does not insist that they suffer the full force of the law, and not even that which would be correct, rather God goes beyond the letter of the law just as these people conduct themselves. This is “kindness to Abraham.” God uses the Level of “kindness” with those who are like Abraham in their own behavior.
So too should a person behave. One should always treat others with righteousness, in an upright and just fashion. Nevertheless with those good and pious people one should go beyond the letter of the law. If one is a little patient with most people, one should be more patient with these people, showing them mercy beyond the letter of the law, more than one would with others. One should consider such people exceptionally important and dear, and they should be among one’s associates.
Henry Abramson serves as Dean of the mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College. A specialist in Jewish history and thought, he is the author of several works, most recently Torah from the Years of Wrath 1939-1943: The Historical Context of the Aish Kodesh. His online lectures in Jewish history are available at henryabramson.com.
View all posts by Henry Abramson