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Oct 7, 2019

can man forgive a sin against God?

The following is a notice that was posted in the Ashdod area by two people who ran a pub which was open on shabbat in the years 1993-1994. They're asking their customers' forgiveness that they caused public chilul shabbos.

It is a nice expression of remorse, but for the sin of chilul shabbos they need to ask God for forgiveness, not people. Residents who had their shabbos disturbed should be asked to forgive the disturbance, but we do not stand judgement for our sins before people, but before God. Still, it is a touching gesture.

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  1. I think that this message is very appropriate. They are not asking Mechila for private Chilul Shabbat, rather for a public desecration of Shabbat, not only for themselves, but they encouraged others also to join in the public desecration every week for an extended period of time.

    If I recall correctly, public Sins and encouraging others to sin are listed by the Rambam as sins that are difficult to do tshuva for. Given that this was a public sin, I think that a public acknowledgement of remorse is appropriate.

    1. I think the announcement and sentiment expressed is very nice. I just dont think the asking forgiveness is directed properly

  2. Rafi, I don't agree for two reasons.

    1) The request for mechilah is because they caused others (garmnu) to violate Shabbos. That is indeed something you can ask other people to forgive.

    2) Rambam Hil. Teshuvah 2:5 states that sins bein adam l'chaveiroh should be confessed publicly, but those bein Adam la Makom should be kept private. However, the Raavad there comments:

    במה דברים אמורים בעבירות שבין אדם לחבירו. א''א וכן עבירות המפורסמות ומגולות אע''פ שאינן עם חבירו שכמו שנתפרסם החטא כך צריך לפרסם התשובה ויתבייש ברבים:

    "But that is saying solely concerning sins between man and man etc. Likewise concerning known and open sins, though not against man; for even as the sin was public so it is necessary to make the repentance public, and let the sinner feel the disgrace of his misdoings in public."

    This kind of announcement fits into the Raavad's position.

    1. I highly doubt they caused anyone to be mechalel shabbos. I am confident that 100% of their customers were being mechalel shabbos anyway


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