In a Jewish legend, a rabbi asks his students, "When does the transition from night to day take place?" And the rabbi gave this answer: "When you look into the face of your fellow human being and you discover in it the face of your brother or your sister, then night has come to an end and day has dawned."
Two Jews, enemies for a long time, meet each other in the synagogue on the Day of Atonement. One says to the other: ‘I wish you what you wish me.’ And the second said: ‘You want to start again?’”
Ben Zoma would say: Who is wise? One who learns from every person, as it says (Psalms 119:99), “From all my teachers I gained insight.”<br>Who is the humblest of all? One who is humble like Moses our teacher, as it says (Numbers 12:33), “And the man Moses was exceedingly humble.”
Who is the richest of all? One who is happy with what he has, as it says (Psalms 128:1), “You will eat from the work of your hands, and you will be happy and prosperous.”<br>Who is the strongest of all? One who is able to conquer his desire, as it says (Proverbs 16:32), “Better to be forbearing than mighty, to have self-control than to conquer a city.” And one who conquers his desire is considered as if he had conquered a city full of warriors, as it says (Proverbs 21:22), “One wise man prevailed over a city of warriors.” The true warriors are warriors in Torah, as it says (Psalms 103:20), “Mighty warriors do His bidding.” Some say these are the angels who serve God, as it says (ibid.), “Bless the Eternal, His angels, [mighty warriors.]” And some say: One who can turn an enemy into his friend.
who desires years of good fortune? (14) Guard your tongue from evil,
your lips from deceitful speech. (15) Shun evil and do good,
seek amity and pursue it.
(יב) הִלֵּל וְשַׁמַּאי קִבְּלוּ מֵהֶם. הִלֵּל אוֹמֵר, הֱוֵי מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן, אוֹהֵב שָׁלוֹם וְרוֹדֵף שָׁלוֹם, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת וּמְקָרְבָן לַתּוֹרָה:
(12) Hillel and Shammai received [the oral tradition] from them. Hillel used to say: be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving mankind and drawing them close to the Torah.
(יב) וְאֵ֛לֶּה תֹּלְדֹ֥ת יִשְׁמָעֵ֖אל בֶּן־אַבְרָהָ֑ם אֲשֶׁ֨ר יָלְדָ֜ה הָגָ֧ר הַמִּצְרִ֛ית שִׁפְחַ֥ת שָׂרָ֖ה לְאַבְרָהָֽם׃
There seem to be 10 principles or requirements of reconciliation, a process that takes time, that is complex, that has its ups and downs, but in the end offers contemporary healing for both victims and perpetrators while constantly remembering and not eclipsing the past. The first six principles relate to both Germans and Jews, the next two to the German participants, and the last two to the Jewish victims.
1. Reconciliation requires courage, the willingness to embark on an unknown journey.
2. Reconciliation requires moral vision, the ability to do what is right, even if it’s unpopular.
3. Reconciliation requires generosity of spirit, the capacity to put oneself in another’s shoes through empathy.
4. Reconciliation requires personal openness, the ability for self-reflection and learning.
5. Reconciliation requires reciprocity, the willingness to build a two-sided relationship, not a one-way street.
6. Reconciliation requires leadership, individuals who are willing to step forward and face the challenges of creating an entirely new relationship.
7. For Germans, reconciliation requires the assumption of responsibility for Germany’s past and the desire to face the truth in all of its horrific detail.
8. For Germans, reconciliation requires perseverance and fortitude to find the many material resources necessary to fulfill the emotional desire for change.
9. For Jews, reconciliation requires neither forgiving nor forgetting. Jews rightly insist that only the murdered victims of the Holocaust or G-d on Yom Kippur can deliver forgiveness. Remembrance is an essential element of Judaism, and memory of the Holocaust and constantly honoring the victims are necessary for personal identity and for the identity of the Jewish people.
10. Finally, as the tenth principle, if not forgiveness, then what gift do Jews bring to Germans in reconciliation? They offer magnanimity, a willingness to respond positively to German overtures and initiatives; a deep commitment to forging a new relationship of cooperation and friendship and trust.