"As Many As Seventy Times Seven?"
"Then Peter came up and said to him, 'Lord, how often shall by
brother sin against me, and I forgive him?
As many as seven times?' Jesus
said to him, 'I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times
seven.'" (Matthew 18:21-22)
Mozes Kor is a remarkable person. She's
a Holocaust Survivor. Born in
Romania in 1935, her country was overrun by the Nazis when she was still
very little. She and her
whole family were herded in the "cattle cars" to a concentration
camp. There, she and her twin sister, Miriam, were separated from
their parents, and selected to participate in the notorious experiments of
Dr. Josef Mengele, who used twins as "guinea pigs." Eva Kor never saw her parents, or anyone else in her family,
again. She was ten years old
when she was liberated from Auschwitz, along with her twin sister, Miriam. They first moved back to Transylvania, then happily
migrated to Israel when it was formed in 1948.
There, Eva met and married another Holocaust survivor who brought
her to the United States. They
raised two (very American) children, but he did not live to enjoy his old
Kor is now a real estate agent in Terre Haute, Indiana.
She has gained some notoriety not only because she is willing to
tell her story, but because she has publicly---and
unapologetically---forgiven the Germans.
Even the Nazis. And yes, even those SS torturers who were never brought to
justice. She says that she
forgives them not for religious reasons, particularly, but because her
being able to grant forgiveness gives her the empowerment to move on, and
to not be a victim for the rest of her life.
The only way she can deal with the pain is to let go of it.
She says that getting even, even if she could, would not relieve
the burden from her. She must
Of course, her point of
view brought much criticism from other survivors, who feel that Eva Kor's
pronouncement has somehow diminished the legacy of those who suffered.
Eva will have none of that. She
herself established a Holocaust Museum in Terre Haute.
When it was burned down by arsonist(s) unknown who themselves have
never been brought to justice, Eva Kor headed up the rebuilding operation.
She has a great deal of inner strength.
She's also significantly overweight, saying that she promised
herself she would never go hungry again.
She also, she says, experiences a constant, deep, sadness, as if
it's difficult for her to ever be really happy.
Perhaps that's the real permanent consequence of a traumatized
Under the gentle and
empathetic direction of Bob Hercules and Cheri Pugh, Eva Kor is an
admirable figure, even when debating with other Jews, but especially when
she is sympathizing with American teenagers, who line up to tell her that
they have gained strength from her in facing their own difficulties.
(She seems to studiously avoid patronizing them, or belittling
their trauma.) But Eva Kor
has a blind spot, as well:
when given the
opportunity to converse with some Palestinians, she found she had no
patience for listening to their troubles.
Her justification was that she could forgive something done to her
in the past, but not the people who were lining up to call themselves
victims at the hands of the present-day Jews.
She could not help but roll her eyes and want to leave the room.
She's willing to pronounce forgiveness about the distant past, but
unwilling to work toward an active solution for those currently in
death-grip conflict. She says
it made her too uncomfortable. That's
a shame. Because somebody, somewhere, somehow, has to figure out how
to make these two groups with their hands at each others' throats let go
of their hatred, or there will only be more bloodshed.
And if Eva Kor can't, then who can?
Have you been able to forgive a person or group of persons who
What are the personal consequences of holding on to anger?
What are the personal consequences of letting go of anger?