Why is it so hard to say sorry? How will I act when someone else asks me for forgiveness?

Everyone knows we must ask forgiveness from our friends before Yom Kippur, and all our prayers to Gd don’t help to fix our wrongdoings to our fellow man. But how do we do it? How do we get the courage to ask forgiveness? I messed up with my spouse or friends so much, how can I even ask?

It’s true that asking forgiveness is really not pleasant, but when you do ask, it shows the other party you wronged that you admit you made a mistake, and you show him you’re not proud of your actions, and you regret them. So, though it’s difficult, you’ll always feel cleansed after asking forgiveness. You demonstrate that you didn’t wantonly cause harm on purpose, but rather you weren’t properly thinking it out or paying attention when you wronged your friend or spouse.

Living with a spouse that is incapable of saying sorry is difficult. The conclusion someone draws from such refusal is: “He/She wants to hurt me and doesn’t care.” So as soon as you say you’re sorry you clarify that you actually love them and had no intention of hurting them, and that you did it by mistake. When you apologize you take a great load off of both of you.

Asking forgiveness from a 10-year-old boy whose foot you stepped on is pretty easy. But asking forgiveness from the same child for speaking meanly about him, either behind his back or to his face, is much harder. Some “sorry”s are easy and spontaneous, and some cause you to approach with trepidation.

There are those who can’t get the word “sorry” out of their mouths, but on the other hand they do a lot of good deeds. If such a person needs your forgiveness, accept it even if it’s only through deeds and not through his words.

Saying sorry can repair broken relationships. Where two people kept a distance from each other because of something that happened, saying sorry can help them stop distancing from each other until they get back to where they were before.

When someone asks me for forgiveness I should be open to accept it. If I close the door on my friend he may never come back and ask for forgiveness and I may lose a friend. How can I refuse him? He went the distance, overcoming his internal opposition and discomfort, and came to ask forgiveness. Let’s remember we could be in his shoes, and so how will we be so brazen to ask forgiveness if we won’t give it ourselves?

My father, who passed away two years ago, used to always ask us to forgive each other. Invariably one child would say: “But Dad, I didn’t do anything wrong to him!” And my father would answer, “It’s sufficient that he eventhoughtyou did something wrong to him that you should ask his forgiveness. Now think that maybe you actually did do something to him just you forgot. So just go ask forgiveness…”

It’s really difficult to say “I’m sorry,” but when we do, we can come to the synagogue on Yom Kippur feeling purified in all our limbs. We succeeded and we overcame the obstacles in our way, and we did what we were supposed to do. Now we are clean and pure.