Friday Candle Lighting: 4:31 pm
Shabbat Ends: 5:19 pm
It’s Nothing, Really!
“I am Yosef. Is my father still alive?” (45:3)
How many times when you apologize to someone do you hear: “It’s nothing, really! Why are you making such a fuss out of it? What did you do, after all? Forget it! It’s really nothing!”
Now for some people, saying “It’s nothing” is genuine forgiveness. It really is nothing to them. However, most of the time what people really mean is “It’s nothing really?! You must be joking! I don’t even want to hear your voice. I just want to see you squirm around in front of me. I’m not letting you off the hook for anything. Apologize away. It’s nothing really!”
A person who refuses to accept an honest apology can make himself guiltier than the “guilty party”. Just as Judaism prescribes the appropriate behavior for one who needs to apologize, so too there is a correct way to behave towards someone seeking forgiveness. Indeed, someone who turns a plea for forgiveness into an opportunity for vengeance, however subtle it might be, will very probably end up committing a graver sin that the original offense.
Picture Yosef’s brothers standing in front of him with utter humiliation and guilt at facing their young brother whom they had wronged so terribly. Now they were facing a king who had the power of life and death over them. How did Yosef react in this situation? Human nature would suggest that Yosef would, at least, have laid out in some detail all the hardship and suffering they had caused him. However, what we read in the Torah sounds more like an extended “Thank You note” than a reproach.
“And now, be not distressed, nor reproach yourselves, for it was to be a provider that G-d sent me ahead of you. Thus, G-d has sent me ahead of you to ensure your survival in the land and to sustain you. It is not you who sent me here, but G-d.”
The Torah teaches us that, as important as it is to say “Sorry“, it’s equally important to know how to say “I forgive you” in a way that genuinely comforts the offender.
- Source: Da’at Torah