By Rabbi Chaim Chazzan
How do I ask for forgiveness?
The teshuvah done on Yom Kippur only atones for aveiros between man and Hashem but not for aveiros between man and his fellow. To atone for such wrongdoings one must ask for forgiveness from the offended party. This includes cases where one harmed his fellow financially, insulted him verbally, or otherwise wronged him.
Optimally one should go oneself to ask mechilah, however if it’s difficult to meet face to face, one could call on the phone or send a middle man, especially in a case where a intermediary has more chances of succeeding to appease the offended party.
If one went to ask mechilah but the offended party refused to forgive, one must go again with three people and ask mechilah in front of them. If he still declines to be moichel, he has to go a total of three times together with three people (in addition the first time when he went himself). Each time he should phrase the request differently.
After being refused the third time he need not to attempt again, but he must to tell ten people that he asked mechilah, and his friend turn down his request. The reason is so that people shouldn’t suspect that he didn’t want to lower himself before his friend and ask mechilah.
When asking mechilah, one has to specify what he’s asking mechilah for, but if his friend will be embarrassed or hurt, he should just ask in general.
If one was hurt, and his friend that hurt him didn’t come to ask mechilah, he should approach him, in a manner that will remind the friend to ask mechilah.
מקורות: ס’ השיחות תשג ע’ 177; שוע”ר או”ח סי’ תרו ס”א-ה; מטה אפרים שם ס”א-ז.
Reprinted with permission from Lmaan Yishmeu – a project of Mercaz Anash. To see more articles visit Mercazanash.com