Wednesday, September 4, 2013


I blame elementary school for this. 

"Rosh HaShana is the time of year we ask for forgiveness," the morahs would say. "But if you don't forgive someone after they have asked, you are a rasha." 

So girls would stand in doorways, hawking "Forgiveme? Forgiveme? Forgiveme?" as every classmate walked by, and if someone didn't squeak "I forgive you," they would cackle and squeal, "You're a rasha!" 

On the adult level: When mass emails are sent out to everyone's contacts, saying, "If I have offended you I am sorry and I hope you forgive me": If one doesn't know if one has done something wrong, distributing "Get out of jail free" cards doesn't count. 

The phrase "I'm sorry" has been cheapened nowadays. Children are demanded to say it after every transgression, whether they feel contrition or not. They are just empty words, quickly muttered to get that lady off my back. 

I have a little nephew, the runt of the family who is one tough cookie. Not yet two he stomps about, a principled yet undersized weenie. If his parents tell him to say "Sorry," he bellows, "No! I not sorry!" 

I laugh for joy when I hear him say it. He won't lie, not even to get out of trouble, and I think that shows a perseverance of character. Saying "sorry" should mean being sorry; the words should not be pithily uttered. That kid knows what being sorry means, and he won't fake it.

Whenever I think back to someone "who done me wrong," I don't want apologies from them. I want to see them do better, treat others kindly, to show consideration. If I see them act so, I know they are truly sorry. I know they won't make the same mistake again, and will be sensitive and respectful. 

Don't do a casual FB status, "Forgive me?" to your 300+ "friends." Don't include a card in your wedding invitation, saying "A wedding is like Yom Kippur, so sorry to all and sundry." A few Yom Kippurs have passed without an apology, so don't start now. Don't ask for mechila if you don't even know if you have done something wrong.

Because asking for forgiveness also means recognizing one's own faults, and taking action on them. It's supposed to change one's being, inside and out. It's serious stuff. Like in the A.A. 12-Step Program (making amends is #9).

It doesn't belong on Twitter.      


FrumGeek said...

Forgive me?

Sophie-Marie said...

L'shanah tovah! I am not Jewish, but I agree that asking for forgiveness should be meaningful and truthful.

Sefardi Gal said...

Great points. Your nephew sounds cute!

Princess Lea said...

FG: Bite me.

Sophie: Here's to a meaningful year!

SG: As he puts it, "I cute." His self-esteem is in great shape.

littleduckies said...

Yay, someone who agrees with me! :)
(I mean, we don't agree on everything, obviously, but it IS nice to see that I'm not the only one who's sick of the, "Forgive me" stuff.

Princess Lea said...

We don't agree on everything? Score one for diversity and individuality!