Project Genesis

Basics of Judaism

Sin and Repentance

Not Accepting an Apology

Question: If I attempt to apologize and explain to another person my sincere belief that I was wrong, and they do not wish to listen, or by inaction do not allow me to voice my feelings, have they wronged me in any way and/or at fault in any way? In the context of the situation, what I am, in effect, attempting to do, is convince this person of their wrongdoing (if one is present) and bring to their attention their mistreatment of me. Thank you

Answer: Let me quote from Maimonides in his Laws of Repentance, ch. 2, para. 9-10:

“If someone wronged another he must make good the wrong and seek forgiveness .. and to appease and meet with (the wronged party) until he forgives him. If he refuses to forgive, bring a group of three of his friends and, together, request that he forgives. If he (still) won’t forgive, leave him and go (on with your life) and the one who won’t forgive is (now) the sinner.”

“It is forbidden for a man to be stubborn and refuse to be appeased, rather, he should be easily swayed (by another’s entreaties), and when someone requests from him his forgiveness, he should forgive eagerly with a full heart…”

In Jewish law, Maimonides (also known as Rambam) is absolutely authoritative especially in these matters. I think this should clarify the issue.

With my best regards,
Rabbi Boruch Clinton

Thank you so much for your help, the explanation you provided helped me to clear up this matter easily.

1 Follow-up »

  1. I have a student who through a miscommunication believes that I wronged him. If I choose three friends to request an opportunity to meet, are they my friends or his?

    The ruling of the Rambam would seem to imply that the friends should be his (or at least three people with whom he’s not angry). This, obviously, is likely to have a much more powerful effect than if it’s done in the presence of strangers. I would suggest that sending one or two individual friends to try to talk to him in a more informal setting might be useful as well.

    I wish you the very greatest success in your attempt to restore peace.

    Comment by ATR — March 30, 2006 @ 10:04 pm

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