Published July 8, 2004
Ask Rabbi Dan
by Rabbi Dan S. Wiko PhD
  Issue: 5.07
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Judith asked:
"I recently found out that my step-son was molesting my birth daughter. This happened many years ago, but it still has me so angry. Not only was he molesting her from the age of 14-16, while he was 18-20, but he was giving her drugs. She continued to use drugs on and off and eventually became addicted and her whole family broke up. I had to raise her children for 5 years while she was in prison. He apologized to me, never to her, and swore he would live a clean and better life; he was abusing his wife and stepchildren-girls. He broke his promise, and I still find it difficult if not impossible to be around him. Were it not for him perhaps my daughter's life would have been so different, and the grandchildren would not have had to endure all this pain. I know God says to forgive him, but he does not seem repentful! Was he over the age of accountability, is it my duty to treat him kindly, I can hardly stand to be near him, I just feel he is so evil; he's done so many wrong things. Thank you for your help."

Dear Judith,

I can feel your pain in your writing and am saddened in reading the details.

This young man appears to be out of control and will ultimately, pay for his sins.

I do, however, suggest that you forgive him, primarily, because you will have a lighter load to carry. By forgiving those who have wronged us or our loved ones, we relieve ourselves of anger. It is retained anger that causes many of our physical problems and for that reason alone, you might want to forgive.

However, granting forgiveness, by no stretch of the imagination includes setting oneself up for a recurrence or a continuation of the behavior that cause the pain and anger. There is an axiom that says "I forgive you but I'll pass on a lunch date". In other words, you need not ever see him again if that is your choice.

I hope that I've been of some help and comfort

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