Monday, October 06, 2008

Question & Answer With Anonymous - Asking Forgiveness Before Yom Kippur

A Simple Jew asks:

Have you ever had the occasion before Yom Kippur to overcome your natural inhibitions and ask forgiveness from a person you had wronged? Have you ever had the occasion to grant forgiveness to a person you felt had significantly wronged you?

Anonymous answers:

Regarding the first issue of overcoming "natural inhibitions" and asking forgiveness, I will admit something that until now only my wife knows. Since I've been married (B"H over 11 years) I have kept a list of every major argument, disagreement, misunderstanding, and general compromise in our Shalom Bayis that we have on a monthly basis. I try to find common detonators (usually it's me speaking before actually thinking) in an attempt to avoid such problems in the future. Every year before Yom Kippur I bring my list to my wife.

Now, I don't go through every issue, but I try to bring up the big ones that came up during the past year and ask her for me'chilah. This processes sometimes makes us laugh about silly arguments, but it sometimes rehashes some memories that we had tried forget about. You wrote at the end of your first question the words "you had wronged". There is much wisdom in such phrasing. It's very easy to say, "I'm sorry", but much harder to actually admit that "I am wrong".

In regards to your second question about forgiving someone else...boy I wish that was the case. I can think of two specific times in my life when I have been "significantly wronged". For a long time I felt that I was entitled to both an apology and the opportunity to forgive those involved. As time has gone on, I have come the realization that it was really arrogance and ultimately a tactic of the Yetzer Hora that made me think that I needed an apology. I'm not discrediting the personal value and the Halachic obligation of asking forgiveness to someone, but I think that there is a difference between wanting an apology and needing an apology.


At October 6, 2008 at 6:27:00 AM EDT, Blogger Gandalin said...

"I think that there is a difference between wanting an apology and needing an apology."

Yes, the person who was wronged wants an apology.

The person who wronged needs an apology.

G'mar chasima tova!
Le Shana Tova uMetukah!

At October 6, 2008 at 7:33:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this open post. Honestly, I have quite some problems with forgiving and with asking mechila.

In the past years, when I tried to make up with people before R"H or Y"K, it lead to even more disputes, because I wanted the others to ask for mehila.

My present position is: it's better to do nothing than to start a new argument while trying to "make up the old one".

At October 6, 2008 at 8:05:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

A somewhat related posting can be found here.

At October 6, 2008 at 1:20:00 PM EDT, Blogger Neil Harris said...

Nice post.

At October 6, 2008 at 5:31:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...


The whole diary/dossier may be too much to deal with at one time.

What you may need to do is compose an executive summary with Pareto chart, so your discussion with your wife has better focus on the most serious issues. Also, as in business, it would help to propose at least one positive action for each major problem identified.

At October 6, 2008 at 5:36:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Sorry, my last comment should have been addressed to the anonymous person who answered your question!

At October 7, 2008 at 1:54:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob Miller: Thank you for your comment. After looking over a year's worth of "hot button issues" patterns are visable to eye. When I do ask my wife for me'chillah, I end by telling her that I will do X,Y, and Z in order not to fall into the same trap in this new year. B"H, my wife is the most forgiving person I know.

-Guest post writer (Emes)


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