Guilt vs Shame

Insightful words from Coffee Shop Rabbi: “Shame requires healing. Part of that healing may be to deal with guilt over things that we have actually done. “

Coffee Shop Rabbi

Rodin's Eve after the Fall. Eve after the Fall, by Rodin

The soul-searching of Elul can be healthy and productive. It helps us to get back on track. It can provide the push we need to resolve unfinished business. It can allow us to start the new year with a clean slate and a clean conscience.

One way to get off track, though, is to get confused about the difference between guilt and shame.

Guilt is the fact or state of having committed an offense. The feeling of guilt is useful: it’s a feeling of responsibility for having done (or failed to do) the deed in question. It might include remorse at the behavior in question. Guilt says “I did something” or “I neglected to do something.” 

Guilt is redeemable. It is fixable. The way to cure guilt is to make teshuvah. I wrote a post a while back called The Jewish Cure for Guilt

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About dayanhadassah

✡MOT: I can worry about six things at once: Expert on 'what ifs' and worst-case scenarios: Aficionado of 'just in case': Kein Ayin Hara
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