Interfaith Background On AtonementConfessionReparationRedemption

Additional Background

Background Reading To Accompany Your Interfaith AllFaith  Confession Atonement Redemption Tawba Moksha Satori Enlightenment

Gender in Language in Prayer and Community

Confession, Contrition, Atonement, Penance, Redemption, Truth and Reconciliation
From the Various Faiths; As you read these resources, think of how they can be modified wherever needed needed to be gender balanced, nonsexist, nonhierarchical and reunite the HumanFamilyCommunity of Earth instead of Dividing and Destroying.

Interfaith/All Faiths
This is an example of just how patriarchal a discussion of forgiveness can be. There is no mention of a female, even as a sinner, let a lone forgiver, of Forgiving Goddess. All the pronouns used and examples refer to males. Though it purports to be interfaith, it leaves out over half of humanity.




incl Catholicism\

There is no sin in Hinduism. This is another western concept that has crept in via the Christian missionaries or via Hindus doing too much reading about Christianity. It’s a foreign concept brought to us by foreigners, and had no place in SD.
Similarly, there is no good or bad karma. There is just karma. The world of seeing duality and polar opposites everywhere is totally Abrahamic. You may think it is daytime right now, but it is night time somewhere else. A totally overly simplistic view of the world.
There is, however, behaviour that takes us away from God, and behaviour that takes us towards God. Sin was talked about by some recent universalists because they wanted to cater to the Christians who liked to pretend to be Hindus.
We have anava, or primal ignorance, the inability to distinguish dharma, otherwise known as stupidity.
We make up for doing stupid things by apologising or doing a self imposed penance, and by not repeating the same mistake. Mistakes are part and parcel of the path. Experiences are necessary to advance character.
According to Monier Williams, Maya meant wisdom and extraordinary power in an earlier language, but later the word came to mean illusion, fraud, deception, witchcraft, sorcery and magic.[2]
efinition of Dharma and Karma
Dharma ‘“ refers to one’s duty in this life. You dharma varies according to your class, your family, and the time of your life.
Karma – refers to the actions that one does in relation to one’s dharma.
In a sense, dharma could be seen as one’s lifelong task and karma the steps that one has to take to complete the task.
Anava (from “anu”, meaning an atom or an exceedingly small entity) is a state – the consciousness of the ego, the sense of “I” and “mine”. This represents a sense of individuality and a separation from a general existence of any “divine plan”. One of the three Buddhist malas or bondages: anava, karma and maya. The three malas or pashas are also explicitly discussed in the theology of Shaivite Hinduism. In Shaivism, anava is the cause of the individual soul’s mistaken sense of separate identity from Universal God, and the last bond broken before union or Self-Realization (moksha).

Conditions of tawba
According to Islamic Sharia, when an act of tawba is performed by a Muslim, Allah generally accepts it. However, that tawba should be sincere and true. Muslim scholars agree upon the fact that if a person is not ashamed of his past misdeeds, or does not intend to forsake those, then his verbal announcement of tawba is an open mockery of repentance.[8] Mere verbal repentance does not account for a true tawba. A sincere tawba has some criteria. Hazrat Ali was asked as to what is tawba, and he replied that tawba consists of six elements:
    to regret one’s past evil deeds;
    to carry out Divine duties (fard, wajib etc.) that were missed;
    to return the rights/properties of others that were usurped unjustly;
    to ask forgiveness of a person who has been wronged by him, physically or verbally;
    to make a firm resolve of avoiding the sin in future; and
    to employ oneself in Allah’s obedience, as he previously employed himself in Allah’s disobedience.[2]
Tawba and the benevolence of Allah
According to Islamic sharia, a sincere tawba is always accepted by Allah.
Tawba (Arabic: توبة‎) is a Quranic Arabic word that means “a retreat” or “a return”
to regret one’s past evil deeds;
to carry out Divine duties (fard, wajib etc.) that were missed;
to return the rights/properties of others that were usurped unjustly;
to ask forgiveness of a person who has been wronged by him, physically or verbally;
to make a firm resolve of avoiding the sin in future; and
to employ oneself in Allah’s obedience, as he previously employed himself in Allah’s disobedience.[2

Viduy (confession) is an integral part of the repentance process. It is not enough to feel remorse and forsake sin, although such feelings are a commendable first step.[5] A penitent must put his or her feelings into words and essentially say, “I did such-and-such and for that, I am sorry.” Excuses for and rationalizations of the sin are not accepted at this stage of the repentance process.[2] The verbal confession need not necessarily be a confession to another person; confessing alone may allow the penitent to be more honest with him- or herself.[6]
Viduy is slightly different for sins committed against God or one’s self than they are for sins committed against another human. Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote, “According to Jewish tradition, even God Himself can only forgive sins committed against Himself, not against man.”[7] True repentance requires the penitent to approach the aggrieved party and correct the sin however possible. The Jewish concept of repentance is not simply the renouncement of sin in general, but rather in the specific sin done against a specific person or group of people. Only then must one go through the introspective processes described above.[8]
What categories of sin are included in the confessions? They are not errors in belief or ritual. They are moral failures: callousness; disrespect towards others, contentiousness, insolence, causeless hatred; and violence; dishonesty, deception, breach of trust, slander; envy, levity, obscenity; and above all, sins committed with the tongue.
They are not specific sins committed on given dates against particular individuals. For these one has to seek the forgiveness of the person concerned, in line with the teaching in the Mishnah (Yoma 8:9) that Yom Kippur brings atonement only for transgressions against God; for sins against man, “Yom Kippur does not bring atonement until one has made peace with his fellow”.
In this connection Yehudah ben Tema stated: “If you have done your fellow a slight wrong, let it be a great wrong in your eyes, and go and rectify it. If you have done him much good, let it be little in your eyes. If he has done you a great wrong, let it be a little thing in your eyes” (Avot D’Rabbi Natan 41).
The Mishnah makes clear, however, that rote recital of prayers for repentance without any sincere repentance of the heart, is meaningless:
    One who says: I will sin and repent, then I will sin again and repent again, is not really repentance. And one who says: I will sin, and the Day of Atonement will atone for me, will find that the day will not avail for atonement.
    For transgressions against God, the Day of Atonement atones; but for transgressions of one human being against another, the Day of Atonement does not atone until they have made peace with one another.
In addition to repentance, Judaism requires atonement. Atonement is the effort to “pay back” for the sin committed. If I stole property, for example, I must make restitution.
Repentance in Judaism known as teshuva (Hebrew: תשובה‎, literally “return”), is the way of atoning for sin in Judaism.
According to Gates of Repentance, a standard work of Jewish ethics written by Rabbenu Yonah of Gerona, if someone commits a sin, a forbidden act, he can be forgiven for that sin if he performs teshuva, which includes:[1]
    regretting/acknowledging the sin;
    forsaking the sin (see below);
    worrying about the future consequences of the sin;
    acting and speaking with humility;
    acting in a way opposite to that of the sin (for example, for the sin of lying, one should speak the truth);
    understanding the magnitude of the sin;
    refraining from lesser sins for the purpose of safeguarding oneself against committing greater sins;
    confessing the sin (see below);
    praying for atonement;
    correcting the sin however possible (for example, if one stole an object, the stolen item must be returned or if one slanders another, the slanderer must ask the injured party for forgiveness);
    pursuing works of chesed and truth;
    remembering the sin for the rest of one’s life;
    refraining from committing the same sin if the opportunity presents itself again;
    teaching others not to sin.
4 Ashamnu, the short confession
Ashamnu-we have tresspassed
Bagadnu- we have dealt treaturously
gazalnu-we have robbed
Dibarnu dofi- we have spoken slander
heevinu- we have acted perversly
v’hirshanu-we have done wrong
zadnu- we have acted presumptuously
hamasnu- we have done violence
tafalnu sheker- we have practiced deceit
yaatsnu ra- we have counseled evil
kizavnu- we have spoken falsehood
latsnu- we have scoffed
maradnu-we have revolted
niatsnu-we have blasphemed
sararnu-we have rebelled
avinu- we have committed iniquety
pashanu-we have transgressed
tsararnu-we have opressed
kishinu oref-we have been stiff necked
rashanu- we have acted wickedly
shichatnu- we have dealt corruptly
tiavnu-we have committed abomination
tainu- we have gone astray
titanu- we have led others astray
5 Al Cheyt, the long confession
Terrific discussion within Judaism; I saved the WHole Website
Has Leonard Cohen’s who By Fire
Judaism differentiates between sins towards God (eg breaking the rules of kashrut, desecration of shabbat) and sins towards another person (eg spreading gossip, stealing). Prayer, fast and giving to charity are considered the ways to redeem oneself from sins to God, but to redeem oneself from a sin to another person one must obtain the forgiveness of the victim first (followed by prayer, fasting and charity). However if one repents and asks for forgiveness on several separate occasions and the victim refuses to forgive out of spite, the transgression becomes that of the one who refuses to forgive.
The tradition is that from rosh hashana to yom kippur God determines who has unrepented sin on their ‘account’, and based on that determines if the person lives or dies during the year that follows.
Ki Sarita
Yes exactly, in the days before yom kippur people would call each other and ask for forgiveness. although sometimes it seemed kind of rote and formulaic , if someone really did have something pressing on our conscience but were too embarrassed to initiate, it could be a good opportunity. although it didn’t work that way for me, having some real grievances with my family I’ve completely avoided the forgiveness ritual.
I recall a friend who had been ostracized, calling her family before Kippur and reminding them that while they were praying and all they should know they had a daughter/ sister who was still hurting and who did NOT forgive them.
Ki Sarita, you touch upon a really good point. Yom Kippur isn’t just about asking for forgiveness, it’s also about granting forgiveness to those who have sinned against you. Hashem can forgive you for sins you’ve done against Him, but He *cannot* forgive you for sins you’ve committed against other people: you must ask direct forgiveness from them. This puts different obligations on the sinned and those sinned against, and there’s a weird trap in here.
So, if you can’t be forgiven unless the other person forgives you, what happens if the other person won’t forgive you?
Maimonides says, “when you ask someone for forgiveness, he or she is allowed to turn you down. If this happens, you should return a second and third time, with three witnesses, and try apologizing again. If the victim won’t forgive you after three tries, then you’re considered to have atoned, even if you haven’t been granted forgiveness.”
So, when we learned about this in my Jewish day school, immediately what would happen is people would gather in groups and go, “do you forgive me? Do you forgive me? Do you forgive me? Hah, I’m forgiven!” The next day — maybe even the next class period — they would go back to bullying. Obviously, there was no intent of actually changing behavior — but the letter of the law had been observed!
But what about the people who have really, really done something horrible to you — I’m thinking of emotional abuser here — and then ask for forgiveness on Yom Kippur? And they might seem sincere, and they might genuinely be remorseful, but you know that they’re going to go back and do the same bad behavior all over again? Do you forgive them?
Ki Sarita
That didn’t happen in my class. Your class missed the part of maimonides where he talks about repentance as a lengthy process—and stopping to sin is the very first stage.
I’ve thought about that too.  How would our formula for repentance and forgiveness work for abuse, not just mistakes or the normal emotional wear and tear of relationships. Abuse is not a mistake, and should not be treated as just a mistake when asking for forgiveness. Personally I think it could work, but only if done very thoroughly and with great intention. There has to be a true and lasting change of behavior in order to legitametly be able to ask for forgiveness.
This is what I learned about the rituals of forgiveness.
T’filah, Teshuvah, Tzedakah. T’filah (te FEE lah) prayer, teshuvah (te SHUE vah) repentance/return, tzedakah (tze DAH kah – the tz sound is like the ts sound in mitts) justice, reparative action.  I know tzedakah often gets used like the word charity, we have tzedakah boxes to drop spare change into until they’re full then donate the money to charity, but the root of tzedakah is tzedek, justice, or also righteousness, and I see the conection that it takes dedicated money and resources to bring about justice in this world.  (BTW, the Hebrew word tzedek is related to the Arabic word zadek, which also means justice and charity.  I checked that with a Muslim friend at work).
I don’t think of t’filah as just going through specific prayers by rote, instead I think of some of the sayings about prayer that we have.  “Prayer cannot water an arid field – but it can water an arid heart, rebuild a weakened will, mend a broken soul.”  Or the other saying, “Whoever rises from their prayers a better person, their prayer has been answered.”  So I see this as an inward reflection to think about what you’ve done, prayer as a way of getting back in touch with the best of who you really are.  It’s connecting to God, but more importantly connecting to the pure soul you started with in this world – Elohai neshema shenatatah bi tehorah hi/My God, the soul you have given me is pure – and strengthening the yetzer ha-tov, the capacity for goodness that we were created with.  Meditation, reflection, prayer, whatever works.
Teshuvah gets often gets translated as repentance but it really means to return.  Traditionally it’s about returning to God’s laws/mitzvot, or more broadly return to proper behavior.  If you are trying to improve yourself and you make a mistake, screw up, or self-sabatoge, return to the path of improvement you were on. Be kind to yourself, forgive yourself, and try again. For someone who’s been abusive in their past, teshuvah might be returning again and again to the choice to be patient, to be kind, or returning to the choice to deliberately NOT let anger dominate their emotional reflexes.
Tzedakah is the last step of this. It’s taking responsibility to fix some of the damage caused by your misdeeds or abusive acts. For a Pearl style abusive family situation, it could be the husband supporting his wife to go back to school for her own dreams to make atonement for all the times she had to deny that she had any dreams of her own in order to support his. He could speak out to other men about the damage this lifestyle causes and try to help other men avoid the abusive choices he’s made.  Or if he really wanted to do some tzedakah he could volunteer at Planned Parenthood as an escort. What Anat said about donating money to charity is a common way to do tzedakah, so a man who’s trying to repent from an abusive relationship could donate money to organizations that work to prevent sexual abuse, or help people out of abusive relationships.
Parents could follow up with apologizing to their grown children by helping them make non-violent parenting choices and break generational family abuse, and stop abusing younger children. They could donate money, or time, to crisis shelters, or just speak out online about the consequences of following the Pearls to warn others to not even start. There are so many ways that teshuvah can lead to tzedakah so that the person asking for forgiveness is really worthy of forgiveness.
But just apologizing and then doing the same sinful or abusive behavior over again is not enough for forgiveness.  In my High Holy Days prayer book there are quotes about forgiveness from all different sources.  From the Mishnah I’ve got these quotes:
    “One who says: I will sin and repent, then I will sin again and repent again, is not really repentant.  And one who says: I will sin, and the Day of Atonement will atone for me, will find that day will not avail for atonement.”
    “For transgressions against God, the day of Atonement atones; but for transgressions against one human being against another, the day of Atonement does not atone until they have made peace with one another.”
    “Friends, what does it say about the people of Ninevah? Not, “God saw their sackcloth and their fasting.” but, “God saw their deeds – that they turned back from their evil ways.” (Jonah 3:10) and in his admonition, the prophet says: “Rend your hearts, and not your garments” (Joel 2:13)
From the Talmud:
    “Who is truly repentant? The one who, when the temptation to sin is repeated, refrains from sinning.”
This is my favorite quote from the Talmud on these pages:
    “What do you call ‘profaning God’s name?” Rav said, “In my case, since I am reputed to live strictly under the discipline of Torah, it would be failing to pay the butcher promptly.”
I always liked that saying, implying honest and timely business transactions were the most important thing a righteous person could do to keep from sinning against God.  I know there is one tradition that when you die the first question God asks you is “Were you honest in your business?” I suppose it sounds silly to be this concerned with business ethics over more spiritual matters of belief and faith, if you are used to hearing that faith alone will save you from hell.  But think about how much corruption in business and government can destroy whole nations, all of the dishonest business practices that right now concentrate wealth away from 99% of the population.  I don’t think it is trivial at all that honest business ethics are worth this much consideration. With or without God, honest business is hugely important, literally a matter of life or death sometimes.  It’s a little off topic, but I just wanted to share it because I like this quote and I think it makes a statement about how much our tradition values ethical behavior that it merits being in the prayer book for the holiest day of the year.
What Anat said about God counting up your sins and deciding between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur who will live and who will die, that’s from the Unetaneh Tokef prayer from the High Holy liturgy.
    On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed,
    And on Yom Kippur it is sealed.
    How many shall pass away and how many shall be born,
    Who shall live and who shall die,
    Who shall reach the end of his days and who shall not,
    Who shall perish by water and who by fire,
    Who by sword and who by wild beast,
    Who by famine and who by thirst,
    Who by earthquake and who by plague,
    Who by strangulation and who by stoning,
    Who shall have rest and who shall wander,
    Who shall be at peace and who shall be pursued,
    Who shall be at rest and who shall be tormented,
    Who shall be exalted and who shall be brought low,
    Who shall become rich and who shall be impoverished.
    But repentance, prayer and righteousness avert the severe decree
In my book the last line is “Repentance, prayer, and charity temper judgment’s severe decree”
I don’t literally believe in God, complete with a long white beard, sitting on a cloud on high checking us all off in his little black book of life and death. But it is a time for intense reflection on the sins of the past year, with hopes to do better next year.  I do see how using the 3T process to stay connected with ourselves and the people around us makes it easier to deal with life, both the good and the bad. How well this system actually works, your mileage will vary, a lot, depending on the people using it. It can be abused and used as a façade without a real change of heart just like any other system.  But if the people involved take it seriously I think it can do a lot of good.


Apology Lines and Organizations Helping with Apology and Forgiveness\

Reparative Justice (Usually uses Circles, See 3 Pillars)

Mother Prayers Goddess and GoddessGod, Interfaith Prayers that are Mostly NonSexist
Our Mother/Father
Our Mother/Father who is everywhere
Holy be your names.
May your new age come, may your will be done
In this and every time and place.
Meet our needs each day
And forgive us our failure to love
As we forgive this same failure in others.
Save us in hard times and lead us into the ways of love.
For yours is the wholeness, yours is the power,
Yours is the loving forever, Amen.
–Joanne Still
Om Kalikayai Namah (Om and salutations to Kali)
Om Sri Maha Kalikayai Namah


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