Rabbi Zeira, the Talmud writes, had the following custom: when he was owed an apology by someone, he would go out to where they were, proceed past them, and then return (Yoma 87a). By walking past them, back and forth, he hoped to jog their memory of the incident, and thus remind them to take the opportunity to apologize. It is clear that he did this not simply for his own closure, but rather to help his counterpart repent for the misdeed and remove it from their spiritual record.
From where did Rabbi Zeira learn this unique practice?
When Adam and Eve (Chava) ate from the Tree of Knowledge, it was a tragic sin against G-d. The only rule G-d set down in the Garden of Eden was not to eat from that tree, and they defied their one Divine Instruction.
What was G-d’s initial reaction to their sin? He did not banish them from the garden, remove their immortality, or mete out the other punishments that He ultimately decreed. His first reaction was to ask “Where are you?” Of course, He knew where they were, but He wanted them to know that He was looking for them. Sadly, they chose to hide from Him, and missed the opportunity to apologize for what they had done. If they would have immediately responded, “We’re here, and we want to say we’re sorry” their destiny could have been far better with G-d’s acceptance of their remorse and apology, and their relationship with G-d would have been healed. (Based on Tiferes Shimshon, HaRav Shimshon Pincus zt”l)
When someone doesn’t apologize, it’s painful. But when we are wronged, the Torah teaches us to see beyond the pain that we were caused, and think about how the other person should make amends — not for our benefit, but for theirs. Help them repair the relationship by showing them you want their friendship, and afford them the opportunity to demonstrate that they want yours, as well.
The strategy sounds good however it is a relative answer. In some countries, it is not safe as one may end up assaulted or killed. On the other hand, it can work to remind the perpetrator.
I strongly believe it is relative currently on which country and certain communities as safety must be considered.
Yes, I agree with you. Rabbi Zeira would do whatever was effective and one can assume that in a culture that requires a different method to achieve the same results, he would pursue that alternative.
What does Jewish law and tradition say about the situation in which the wronged party reaches out to the offender to invite tikkun and teshuva, and the offender refuses to make amends and continues the wrong? Can the wronged party forgive such a person and what meaning does forgiveness have in this situation?
I don’t know for sure, but I think he can forgive him. I don’t think he’s obligated to do so. It’s an interesting question.
You wrote: “When Adam and Eve (Chava) ate from the Tree of Knowledge, it was a tragic sin against G-d. ” Adam and Eve have just been created. They have no life experience. All they have is what G-d has given them. How can they be accused of wrong-doing?
If they were not capable of listening to the rules, why did G-d give them the rule not to eat from the fruit?
That is exactly my point. They were NOT capable of listening to the rules. They were what G-d created them to be. So telling them not to eat from the fruit makes no sense to me.
Why do you say they were not capable? My point was that if G-d gave them the instructions, they must have been able to follow them. They chose not to follow them. That doesn’t mean they weren’t capable of following them. They had free choice.
a wonderful and inspiring lesson. thanks.