Day 8: Asking for Forgiveness

Day 8: Asking for Forgiveness

4 Elul Tuesday, August 29, 2017 (English translation follows)

2.8

הַוִּדּוּי שֶׁנָּהֲגוּ בּוֹ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל “אֲבָל חָטָאנוּ וגו'”, וְהוּא עִיקַר הַוִּדּוּי.  עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁהִתְוַדָּה עֲלֵיהֶן בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים זֶה חוֹזֵר וּמִתְוַדֶּה עֲלֵיהֶן בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים אַחֵר, אַף עַל פִּי שְׁהוּא עוֹמֵד בִּתְשׁוּבָתוֹ,  שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר “כִּי-פְשָׁעַי, אֲנִי אֵדָע; וְחַטָּאתִי נֶגְדִּי תָמִיד” (תהילים נא,ה).

The customary prayer among all Israel begins but we have sinned, etc. This is the essence of the confession.  The sins that one confesses on one Yom Kippur will be confessed again on a Yom Kippur in the future, even though one remains in a state of teshuvah, as it is written (Psalms 51:5),  for I am aware of my sins, and my transgressions are before me always.

2.9

אֵין הַתְּשׁוּבָה וְלֹא יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים מְכַפְּרִין אֵלָא עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבֵּין אָדָם לַמָּקוֹם, כְּגוֹן מִי שֶׁאָכַל דָּבָר אָסוּר אוֹ בָּעַל בְּעִילָה אֲסוּרָה וְכַיּוֹצֶא בָּהֶן.  אֲבָל עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבֵּין אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ, כְּגוֹן חוֹבֵל חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ הַמְּקַלֵּל אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ גּוֹזְלוֹ וְכַיּוֹצֶא בָּהֶן–אֵינוּ נִמְחָל לוֹ לְעוֹלָם, עַד שֶׁיִּתֵּן לַחֲבֵרוֹ מַה שְׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹ וִירַצֵּהוּ.

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִחְזִיר לוֹ מָמוֹן שְׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹ, צָרִיךְ לְרַצּוֹתוֹ וְלִשְׁאֹל מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁיִּמְחֹל לוֹ; וְאַפִלּוּ לֹא הִקְנִיט אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ אֵלָא בִּדְבָרִים, צָרִיךְ לְפַיְּסוֹ וְלִפְגֹּעַ בּוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּמְחֹל לוֹ.

לֹא רָצָה חֲבֵרוֹ לִמְחֹל לוֹ–מֵבִיא לוֹ שׁוּרָה שֶׁל שְׁלוֹשָׁה בְּנֵי אָדָם מֵרֵעָיו, וּפוֹגְעִין בּוֹ וּמְבַקְּשִׁין מִמֶּנּוּ.  לֹא נִתְרַצָּה לָהֶן, מֵבִיא לוֹ שְׁנִיָּה וּשְׁלִישִׁית.  לֹא רָצָה, מַנִּיחוֹ וְהוֹלֵךְ לוֹ; וְזֶה שֶׁלֹּא מָחַל, הוּא הַחוֹטֶא.  וְאִם הָיָה רבּוֹ–הוֹלֵךְ וּבָא אַפִלּוּ אֶלֶף פְּעָמִים, עַד שֶׁיִּמְחֹל לוֹ.

Neither Rosh Hashanah nor Yom Kippur atones for anything but sins between a human being and God (for example, eating forbidden foods or engaging in [consensual] illicit relations). Sins between one human being and another (for example, harming, cursing or stealing from another person) are never forgiven until one repays the debt and placates the injured party.

Even though the monetary debt is paid, one still needs to placate the injured party and ask for forgiveness. Even if the wrong was only a matter of an argument, one must appease the injured party, requesting repeatedly until forgiveness is granted.

If forgiveness is not forthcoming, one should return with a delegation of three people, friends of the injured party, and ask again. If he or she refuses to forgive, the petitioner must return even a second and a third time.  If the offended party still refuses to forgive, he or she should be left alone and one should move on.  The fact that forgiveness is withheld makes the offended party the sinner.  If the offended party is one’s teacher, one should return a thousand times until forgiveness is granted.

Translation from Maimonides on Teshuvah (5th Edition, 2017)

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