A Culture of Victimhood

“Blaming others for our failings is as old as humanity, but it is disastrous. It means that we define ourselves as victims. A culture of victimhood wins the compassion of others but at too high a cost. It incubates feelings of resentment, humiliation, grievance and grudge. It leads people to rage against the world instead of taking steps to mend it. Jews have suffered much, but Yom Kippur prevents us from ever defining ourselves as victims. As we confess our sins, we blame no one but ourselves. That is demanding, psychologically and spiritually. Yet it is the price we must pay for freedom. Other ancient literatures record the successes of rulers and empires. The Hebrew Bible is a unique chronicle of failures. No one in its pages is perfect, not the patriarchs and matriarchs, not priests or prophets, not kings or the ruling elite. No history is as painfully honest as that of the Tanach, and it was possible only in the deep belief that God forgives. God pardons; God atones; God is holding out His hand, calling us back with inextinguishable love. That allows us to be honest with ourselves.”

Ceremony & Celebration, p. 86