Retributive justice can appear simple and easy, with jail time handed out for most significant offenses. Restorative justice demands a much more involved and tailored process of reckoning, apology, and restitution. Although challenging, this heftier process is in line with Jewish values.
In this extraordinary piece of Talmud, not only do we learn that God can make mistakes, we also witness God’s extensive efforts to make things right.
Note that the relationship between God and the moon only turns towards reconciliation once God pauses in Their efforts to fix things and for the first time "sees" the moon, before again returning to the work of trying to make things right.
The artist Isobel O'Hare creates "erasure poems" based on public celebrity apologies. "my own behavior" is an erasure poem created from Kevin Spacey's public apology after he was accused of sexual misconduct. The layered nature of this work reveals some of the many dimensions involved when a person undertakes the process of reckoning and apologizing. We have seen celebrity apologies that seem to want to resolve the entire issue under consideration in one (frequently defensive) statement. One might say that O'Hare evolves this particular apology one step further on the long road that Mr. Spacey, or others like him, might need to take to truly make things right.
Dr. Erica Brown explores the lengthy and intense path to repentance, drawing on the wisdom of Rabbi Jonah of Gerona:
Questions for reflection:
- What are the consequences of a theology in which God can err?
- How can we avoid settling for easy or shallow apologies?
- What might be the rewards of moving through a long and challenging process of reckoning and repair?