How to Apologise
Going through the month of Elul is not just about self reflection, it is also about confronting situations that need to be resolved.
When we were young someone, usually an adult, told us ‘say you're sorry’. Mumbling ‘sorry’ may work when you are five, however how does one should apologise as an adult? The Rambam, in Hilchot T’shuvah teaches us that one should acknowledge, verbalise, apologise and not repeat the wrong he or she has done.
Here are a few thoughts about S’lichot (apologies) Do’s and Don’ts:
- DON'T apologise for someone else's feelings. “I'm sorry you're mad," is not an apology. It's condescending.
- DO apologise for your own actions and attitude. "I'm sorry I was rude," is an apology that takes ownership. Be specific about what you did wrong. I'm sorry for whatever made you mad" is NOT going to work
- DON'T add an excuse to your apology. That means you're not really sorry. Instead, you have justified the way you acted and you expect to be excused.
- DO ask for forgiveness when you apologise. "Will you forgive me?" is a humble request that can rebuild a relationship. Be grateful when you receive it.
- DON'T expect a reciprocal apology. When you recognise you have done something wrong, just own your part of it.
- DO attempt to make a repair. "Is there anything I can do to make this right" is the appropriate question.
May we find Z’man Elul (this season of Elul) as a meaningful time of reconnecting with friends and family and rebuilding life long friendships.
--Rabbi Adi Cohen