As we are in the Ten Days of Repentance here, I thought I would comment on some apologies I have received of late. As a brief commentary on our wonderful modern lives, I should note one of the apologies I will discuss here came to me through Facebook, the other through email. The apologizers will remain anonymous.
I received one, which reads like this:
“Dear friends,L’shanah tovah u’m’tukah l’chol! A very happy and sweet new year to everyone! To those of you who are in their first year of college like me, I wish you a wonderful start to this new stage in your lives, and an even better future. To those of you who are beyond the college experience, I wish you lives full of happiness and love. To those of you who are yet to reach this point in life, I wish you the success and fulfillment you need and deserve on your way!
As the new year 5768 begins, let us all start with a clean slate, a happy heart, and an open mind.
At this time of the Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah (the new year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to you personally. If, during this past year, I have said or done anything that hurt you, offended you, or wronged you in any way, shape, or form, I am sincerely sorry. Please forgive me, so that I may repent on Yom Kippur and be forgiven, that I may have “at one-ment,” atonement.
Thank you, and may you have an easy fast next Saturday, if you are participating.
With much love and affection,
The other, the one from Facebook, reads like this:
I just want to say sorry for anything I did this year that hurt you.
-Plona Bat Almoni”
The first seems to be a general “Happy New Year!” letter. It was sent to many people all at the same time. As a New Year letter life-update sort of thing, it is fine. My question is, then, is this still the appropriate place for atonement? To be clear, this person has never done anything to hurt me. I think I have only even seen them once in the last year. What if she had wronged me in some way? I do not know that I could forgive for such an apology. What if I wrote back to accept he apology for a wrong she had not perceived as a wrong? Specificity, I get a sense, must be included in the initial appeal for forgiveness.
As for the second one, this apology was sent only to me. It may seem vague on the surface, but I will note that we both knew exactly what she was referring to and there was thus no need to be more explicit. This attempt at atonement, in my eyes, is the superior one because it was person-specific and event-specific.