The theme of Yom Kippur is repentance. At the New Year, we review our
mistakes from the past and commit ourselves to new beginnings. Part
of starting over is clearing the past record, which requires repentance.
Repentance for any transgression requires 3 steps for forgiveness from
In addition, for any sin which was committed against another, it may be
required to ask that person's forgiveness. This is the case if any harm
came to the victim of the transgression.
- sincere regret
- commitment not to repeat the sin in the future
- confession, or viduy, which is verbally stating one's sin (privately
to G-d, as in prayer)
In the case of speaking Lashon Hara or Rechilut, the speaker should try to
rescind his words by going back to all the people he spoke to and telling
them he was wrong. If this is not possible or successful, he must ask the
subject forgiveness for what he said. However, he might not be allowed to
ask forgiveness if the subject does not know anything was said against
him; this would depend in part upon whether the subject will be upset.
We are might not be allowed to achieve our own repentance at the expense
of causing another anguish. [Please consult a Rabbi versed in the laws of
Shmirat HaLashon for any practical application of these laws.]
If someone listened to L"H or Rechilut, and even accepted it CH"V (heaven
forfend), he does not need to [and possibly should not] ask forgiveness
from the subject. He should, however, convince himself that the
information is not to be believed. [Also note that if he responded to the
speaker in a way that conveyed approval, he may have to approach the
speaker and retract such approval. This is certainly the case if he added
L"H to the conversation (i.e. "he did the same thing to me last
Best wishes to everyone for a g'mar chatima tova (favorable, permanent
inscription for the New Year).
Text Copyright © Ellen Solomon and Project Genesis, Inc.
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