Yom Kippur Blues
By Morris Eiyen
One of the aspects of Yom Kippur is that we are forgiven from our sins. Sins, however, between man and G-d. Those sins that are between man and man, before G-d forgives us, we must seek the forgiveness of the person that we have wronged. If we do not receive forgiveness from the wronged individual, then G-d mercy is not given to us.
If however we have requested from the person wronged forgiveness, and he refuses to grant it, we must go back again and try to pacify him into forgiving us. If he still refuses to give us forgiveness, we try a third time. It is best to take a few friends with you when you request forgiveness, because this facilities his granting his forgiveness.
Such is the story of a young rabbi who called up a colleague whom he had slighted.
"Hello, Rabbi Plony? This is Rabbi Jones, here on the phone. I am the Rabbi of the Ohev Shalom Synagogue on the other side of town."
"Oh, really? Hmmm, what can I help you with?"
"Well Rabbi Plony, you probably know that it is written in the Jewish Law that if one damages another, or slanders another, etc, before Yom Kippur, he must request forgiveness."
"Yes, I am quite familiar with that. What can I do to help you, young fellow?"
"Well, Rabbi Plony, you see, I make speeches in my synagogue very often and to get a bigger crowd, I some times must say derogatory remarks about you and your congregation."
"Yes, it is all in the spirit of attracting more people to our synagogue, a sort of attempt at Jewish revival."
"Is that so?"
"Yes, well, you know I do get carried away with my own rhetoric, you know."
"Yes, as I was saying, I must have called you some improper names, inept or senile, you know, only in the spirit of trying to bring more life into our small congregation."
"Is that so? Hmm, senile?"
"I might have mentioned that you and that priest who was arrested for child molestation, what was his name, were good friends,-- but certainly you can forgive me for that can't you? After all, it is a big mitzvah to forgive a fellow Jew, you know that don't you?"
"What is that, you insinuated that I did something wrong?"
"Well, it's not really that big of a thing, is it? Especially when you compare it to the big mitzvah of forgiving me, right?"
"What else did you say?"
"I was only joking, you of course realize, when I said that your greatest merit was that your wife no longer engages in prostitution."
"You said that?"
"A joke of course, the congregation thought that it was very funny."
"Hmm, so that is why she was plagued with obscene phone calls for several months."
"Like I was saying, I am certain that a distinguished Rabbi, like yourself, certainly could forgive a minor verbal trespass."
"I could? Hmm, I really don't think so."
"Well you must be aware that if some one requests forgiveness from his friend, and the friend refuses to grant forgiveness, then that friend has the sin. You certainly don't want to have a sin, do you?"
"Of course not! You will be a sinner! Do you want to end up in Hell, all because you refuse to forgive me? You will forsake all the pure bliss and pleasure of the next world."
"Well, I think that the pleasure that I will get in the next world, will be when I am down in Hell, because I did not forgive you, and I see you there burning up for what you have done to me."
- - - - -
Well, we don't have to be so extreme, but remember, forgiveness brings Jews together with G-d. When we see that the other person is sincere in his desire to request our forgiveness, then it is a mitzvah to forgive.
So let us hope and pray that we do not get involved during the entire year in actions that will require our begging our neighbors for forgiveness, and let us be the type that forgive with ease. This will insure that we, together with all of our Jewish brethren, have a great year.
from the October 2003 Edition of the Jewish Magazine