How to Apologize This Yom Kippur & Challah Rolls

6 October 2016

You tell me that you’re sorry / Didn’t think I’d turn around, and say / That it’s too late to apologize / It’s too late

One Republic

It’s now the high holidays, and observant Jews are busy reflecting on their past year and apologizing to anyone to whom they may have done wrong.  Although most of us are conditioned early on to apologize when we hurt others, it still seems to be a difficult task for most people.  Even well into adulthood.  Here are my tips for how to apologize.  All of these show sincerity and maturity to the individual you have wronged.

How to apologize for your misdoings this Yom Kippur (and any other time)

  1. When telling your friend you’re sorry, try to avoid giving an excuse.  The word “but” should not even slip from your tongue.  You can offer an explanation for your bad behavior, but be sure that the other person knows that whatever the explanation is, it doesn’t excuse your bad behavior: “I was tired from staying up all night doing a test and completely blew you off–that was wrong, and I’m sorry.”
  2. When you apologize, be sure to use active voice.  It’s “I’m sorry I hurt you,” and not “I’m sorry you felt hurt when I…”  They do not own the responsibility for their hurt feelings for your bad behavior–you do.
  3. Acknowledge the magnitude of your actions.  It is okay to admit that you were a butthead if you were.  We’ve all done terrible things before; we’ve all been cowards, liars, rude, and inconsiderate at some point in our lives.
  4. If the individual you are apologizing to has trouble accepting your apology or wants to discuss the issue, avoid coming off as defensive.  You came into this with your tail rightfully tucked between your legs.  It’s entirely possible they may want to tell you just how much hurt you’ve caused.  While you don’t need to take verbal abuse, you should hear any reasoned argument out.
  5. Humor is not an excuse.  If you told a joke that offended, don’t hide behind the joke and don’t offer that as a pretext.  It doesn’t matter if you or anyone else thought a hurtful comment at the expense of your friend was funny, the important thing is that your friend does not agree.
  6. When it’s appropriate, offer retribution.  If you took credit for the work of a colleague, for example, offer to make it right by attributing credit where credit is due.
  7. You should ask for–but don’t expect–forgiveness.  Ask the person directly if they can forgive you.  You must accept it if they need time, they’re still hurt, or–worst yet–they simply can’t forgive you.  You can’t get upset at another for not forgiving your mistake.  This is where it may be helpful to refer to #6.  If the friendship or relationship is really valuable to you, tell them they are valuable to you.
  8. Finally, and this should go without saying…be sure you apologize directly to them.  You may–halakhically–apologize via a mass email, group text, or a Facebook post. However, it isn’t nearly as sincere or received as well as a heartfelt apology which enumerates exactly what you did wrong.  If you’re not sure if you hurt someone or what you did exactly that hurt someone, but feel as though you may have, then say that.  Whatever you do, cowardice is not appropriate.

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Challah Rolls with Lox and Cream Cheese

Keeping with the Yom Kippur spirit, I must apologize to you, dear reader; I don’t have a recipe of my own to share.  I recommend this recipe for Challah Rolls (or knots) from Saveur.  Use them as simple rolls or sandwich rolls.  We served these as sandwiches for a brunch, but you could also use them to serve the brisket from our last post.

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This year I had to apologize for being insensitive and condescending at times.  I also apologized for getting defensive and for procrastinating on a work project because it was unpleasant.  This was my first year consciously seeking forgiveness for all my petty and not-so-petty mistakes, and it was certainly a humbling experience.  However, I felt free after the exercise and hopefully others feel inspired to come clean and seek forgiveness.

Readers – have you apologized to anyone recently?  Did you find it difficult or rewarding?  Share below in the comments.

In this post, we share tips on how to apologize to maximize the effect.  In an upcoming post, we’ll share healthy baked matzo-breaded chicken nuggets.  Please stay tuned!

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