A Little Talmud Study

398535_origFrom the Tractate Yoma, pp. 85a-85b, Relating to Duties on Yom Kippur


The transgressions of man toward God are forgiven him by the Day of Atone-ment; the transgressions against other people are not forgiven by the Day of Atonement if he has not first appeased the other person.


Rabbi Isaac has said: “Whoever hurts his neighbor, even through words, must appease him (to be forgiven), for it has been said (Proverbs 6:1-3): “My son, if you have vouched for your neighbor, if you have pledged your word on behalf of a stranger, you are trapped by your promises; you have become a prisoner of your word. Do the following, then, my son, to regain your freedom, since you have fallen into the other’s power: go, insist energetically and mount an assault upon your neighbor.

Rab Jose bar Hanina has said: Whoever asks of his neighbor to release him should not solicit this of him more than three times, for it has been said (when, after the death of Jacob, Joseph’s brothers beg for forgiveness): “Oh, for mercy’s sake, forgive the injury of thy brothers and their fault and the evil they did you. Therefore forgive now the servants of the God of your father their wrongs.” (Gen-esis 50:17).

Questions to Consider:

1. What distinctions do you think the Text intends us to see between offenses against God as opposed to offenses against our fellows? Illustrate.
2. What might our getting right with others and God have to do with God’s re-quirement of self-denial on Yom Kippur?
3. What’s the meaning of Rab Jose bar Hanina’s comment?


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