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Monday, 3 February 2014

Begging for Forgiveness

Yoma 87

How far must I go to appease someone whom I have wronged?

King Solomon writes in Proverbs, “If you have become ensnared by the words of your mouth, behold do this my son and you shall be saved.  Because you have come into your fellow’s hand, go and humiliate yourself and treat him like a ruler.”

Rabbi Yitzchak says that one who aggrieves one’s friend even with words, must appease him.   The Talmud tells of Rabbi Yirmiyah that stood outside Rabbi Abba’s home to appease him for having wronged him.  While waiting there, the maid threw out the trash, which splashed onto the rabbi, thereby fulfilling this dictum of going so far as to become humiliated in an effort to appease one’s friend.

If one fails to appease on one’s own, Rabbi Yitzchak says that one must bring his friends along to convince the hurt party to forgive.  Nevertheless, if one has truly done one’s best to make peace by trying on three separate occasions, one no longer bears the burden of guilt.

We see how far one must go to right a wrong for offending another human being even with mere words!  Let’s strive to avoid offending anyone, but if we do, let us do our utmost to make amends, even if it means we must put aside our own honour in the process.

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