The Concept of Mercy in Judaism

According to Jewish teachings, God exemplifies 13 attributes of mercy.
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Mercy is a significant component of the Jewish faith, which teaches that God exemplifies 13 Attributes of Mercy. The idea of mercy also plays a role in Jewish rituals, such as the practice of Selichot -- special prayers that help worshipers enter a mindset of repentance. The Selichot service consists of a repeated recitation of God’s 13 Attributes of Mercy. The 13 Attributes of Mercy were given to Moses from God and are recorded in the Talmud. The attributes are based on Exodus 34:6-7.

1 Forgiveness

A major theme of the 13 Attributes of Mercy is God’s willingness to forgive. According to the attributes, whether a sin was malicious or unintentional, God will forgive and redeem any sinner. If a sin is committed out of carelessness or apathy, God forgives the error. If a sin is committed with malicious intent, even with the intent of rebelling against and angering God himself, the simple act of repenting will secure God's forgiveness.

2 Constantly Merciful

The attributes teach that God is just, but he is also merciful. In fact, according to the Talmud, God is merciful before a person sins, and his mercy is also available after a person has sinned. This doesn't mean that God simply disregard sins. Instead, God's constant willingness to be merciful toward sinners means that God is merciful, despite a person's past, present and future wrongdoings. Though he knows that sinners will fail again, he is ever willing to provide a means for a sinner's atonement and healing.

3 Graciousness

According the 13 Attributes, God doesn't withhold blessings from anyone, not even from those people who don't seem to deserve his favor. If a person's character is evenly divided between virtuous and sinful behavior, God's justice places more weight on a person's merit, tipping the scale more to good. Furthermore, God does not force people into situations that would result in extreme temptation, and for those who are guilty, he eases their punishment. he consoles sinners and comforts the oppressed. Above all, God's mercy and graciousness toward sinners surpasses all understanding.

4 Redemption

When a person repents, the 13 Attributes of Mercy teach that God wipes all their sins away. God rewards those who serve him. In fact, he remembers the deeds of the righteous and rewards them and the generations that follow them. God is ever willing to forgive and redeem sinners, and he is patient with them, allowing them time to reflect on their deeds and repent. Even before people ask, God willingly shows mercy regardless of their merits.

Amanda Graber has been a writer and editor since 2009. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications. As an editor, she has worked for both a commercial magazine and a children's literary agency. Graber holds a master's degree in writing and publishing from DePaul University.