May 28, 2024
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May 28, 2024
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During the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, which are part of the Yamim Noraim, Jews are supposed to apologize to and seek forgiveness from their family, friends, neighbors and anyone else they have wronged during the year. Even from those they do not necessarily regret wronging because, despite any justification or explanation, a wronging is still wrong.

The Shulchan Aruch states that with respect to “[s]ins that are between one and his fellow, Yom Kippur does not atone for [them] unless he [receives forgiveness from that person]. Even if he only injured him with words, he must attain forgiveness. If he does not forgive him at first, he must try again and go to him a second and a third time… And if that man is his rabbi, he must go to him many times until he forgives him… If the man to whom you have sinned against died, then you bring ten men and you stand with them by his grave.” (Shulchan Aruch 606:1-2) One might say that during the Yamim Noraim, it actually is good to have a “sorry” state of affairs.

Of course, not all apologies are appreciated or even appropriate. In fact, some apologies arguably make matters worse. Here’s a good rule of thumb: You know that your apology is downright awful if you then have to apologize for your apology.

One might wonder exactly what constitutes a bad apology. Yes, insincere apologies are among the worst but sometimes the nature or topic of the apology, in and of itself, can leave an emotional scar. For instance, here are some obvious — and totally hypothetical – examples of bad and probably counter-productive apologies:

(1) I’m sorry that I’m always outperforming you in every facet of life.

(2) I’m sorry that my spouse is objectively far better looking than your spouse.

(3) I’m sorry that my children got into Ivy League schools while your children were accepted at lower-level institutions that are more like Poison Ivy League schools.

(4) I’m sorry that my cholent is a thousand times tastier than your cholent and that every time you ask me for my secret ingredients, I give you a fake list designed to sabotage your cholent.

(5) I’m sorry that I refuse to do carpool with you even though our children are the same age with the exact same schedule and we are next-door neighbors with a shared driveway. I’m also sorry that I would not do carpool with you even if we were conjoined twins.

(6) I’m sorry that I do not socialize with you or invite your over for shabbos lunch because I’m too busy climbing social ladders and I’m too worried that being seen with you will set me back too many rungs.

(7) I’m sorry that the theme for my humorous Shaloch Manos this past Purim was based on your disasterous divorce.

(8) I’m sorry that my family spent Pesach at a five-star resort in the Caribbean while your family stayed home and brought crumbling matzah sandwiches and mushy macaroons to the movie theatre on Chol Hamoed.

(9) I’m sorry that when the rabbi chastises the congregation for excessive talking during davening, I immediately and very obviously point at you.

(10) I’m sorry that I sponsored a kiddush at shul for the entire congregation except for you. I’m also sorry that it was publicly declared during the announcements.

(11) I’m sorry that I was honored at this year’s shul dinner while you were encouraged to start your own shtiebel in a far-away town.

(12) I’m sorry that my Sukkah could be featured on the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” while your Sukkah looked like the set of “Sanford & Son.”

(13) I’m sorry that I am an extremely effective multi-tasker who can juggle many balls while you are so lazy that you could easily win a new gameshow for the sedentary called “American Idle.”

(14) I’m sorry that I constantly speak lashon hara about you behind your back. I promise to start doing it right in front of your face.

(15) I’m sorry that at the bakery, I take ten consecutive numbers and then annoyingly place ten separate orders while the harried customers behind me give me the evil eye.

(16) I’m sorry that at the butcher I asked for the cut of meat you most likely would want, just to help my shabbos meal outshine yours.

(17) I’m sorry my sheitel looks like real hair while yours looks like a Purim costume.

(18) I’m sorry my Shabbos table is decorated so beautifully that sometimes I invite company over just to stare it.

(19) I’m sorry that my child is a starter on the basketball team while your child is a bench-warmer for the pinball team.

(20) I’m sorry that I got engaged, got married and had four kids before you convinced (i.e., bribed) someone to take you out on a first date.

Final thought: It is better to accept an apology than to accept blame, criticism or service of a summons.

By Jon Kranz

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