“Forgiveness goes beyond the laws of justice”: HLD 2020 Conference Day

Feb 26, 2020

Jerusalem – As part of Saxum Foundation’s annual pilgrimage, “Holy Land Dialogues”, pilgrims spend time each week thinking about a topic related to dialogue in the Holy Land and wherever they live. This year’s topic was forgiveness, and February 26 found the participants at the Notre Dame Center of Jerusalem, taking a break from visiting Holy Sites to listen to lectures on the topic.

“Forgiveness is so much more than a therapeutic experience. Forgiveness contains a gift, directed to the person who is forgiven.”

Mariano Crespo

Linda Corbi from Saxum Foundation introduced Carlos Cavallé of the Social Trends Institute, who sponsored the HLD 2020 Conference Day. Said Cavallé, “Our single goal [at Social Trends Institute] is fostering understanding…if we engage in a dialogue of cultures, it’s because we want to reach synergies that affect all of us.”

Dr. Mariano Crespo from the University of Navarra spoke first about the logic of forgiveness: “Forgiveness goes beyond the laws of justice…[it] may recover inner peace. But forgiveness is so much more than a therapeutic experience. Forgiveness contains a gift, directed to the person who is forgiven.”

He continued, “Forgiveness implies that the other’s being is more important than the offense. The wrongdoer has a higher value that transcends the act inflicted. We recognize the immoral act. But in rejecting the act, we do not reject the person.”

Next, Dr. Ruth Fine from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem spoke about how literature can help us to remember and recover from trauma, taking examples from Cervantes’ Don Quixote. She argued that to truly learn from the past, one must forgive but not forget. 

In Judaism, forgiveness is a mitzvah, a divine command. The Torah commands us, ‘Do not hate your brother in your heart’ (ibid. 19:17). True strength is expressed by overcoming the instinct of revenge and being able to forgive.

Ruth Fine

She added, “as Jews, we are commanded to remember. Memory has a place in forgiveness. For only if we remember, then we have the ability to learn, forgive, and rebuild common ground from our past.” 

The discussion was expertly moderated by Daniel Johnson of TheArticle, who has served as the moderator for the past two Holy Land Dialogues. 

Afterwards, the pilgrims went to the Saxum Visitor Center to enjoy lunch, the multimedia tour, and to attend Ash Wednesday services in the Visitor Center chapel. They were also able to see the start of the Emmaus Trail, which begins a few hundred meters from Saxum. 

The day was a break in Holy Land Dialogues’ pilgrimage itinerary – the previous days, the groups visited Holy Sites in Galilee, and this was their first day in Jerusalem.

Photo by Bruno Charbit/Saxum International Foundation.

Holy Land Dialogues is a project of Saxum Foundation, whose mission is to foster understanding of the values deeply rooted in the Holy Land, so as to facilitate dialogue among cultures, strengthen peace, and promote the common good. 


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