It's so easy to screw up. Apologies are more difficult. Sometimes it's even harder for the person getting the apology to accept it. Oy. It's complicated. Luckily, Judaism is here to help.

Forgiveness? We have a whole holiday dedicated to it.

Asking Forgiveness

Apologies Mean More When You Really Mean It

According to the Torah, we’re  forbidden from taking revenge or holding grudges. If only it were that easy, right? Jewish law also says that while only God can forgive sins against God, only people can forgive the sins against them. (So you can’t just apologize to God when you’ve said something awful to your husband. Well, you can but it probably won’t make your husband feel any better.) Also, apologies need to be real and heartfelt, which can be a challenge. The good news is that if you apologize to someone three times and they still don’t forgive you, you have fulfilled your obligation, as long as you really meant it. (So, if you’re one of those people who just loves a grudge, lighten up.) Here are some readings and quotes that can help you on your way when you’re trying to find the best way to say you’re sorry.

As Sir Elton says, "Sorry seems to be the hardest word."

Forgiveness Readings


-Author Unknown

You know when you get so mad at your mom or dad for fucking you up? Us too. This reading helps.

First line: Remembering our parents. Last line: Some of us may feel that our parents harmed us, intentionally or unintentionally, and that we are not yet able to forgive them; we pray that our mentioning them here today will help bring us a measure of healing…

The Final Analysis

-Kent M. Keith, adapted by Mother Teresa

This is a sweet reading by the famous Mother Teresa. If you don’t believe in God, just drop the last verse and it’s still strong.

First line: People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. Last line: You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway…

Forgive Yourself

-Maya Angelou

This is an exquisite reading about forgiving yourself. Something we can all do better. It is easy to see why Maya Angelou was one of Barack Obama’s favorite poets.

First line: I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. Last line: If we don’t have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell, we should never teach…

You Are Not Broken

-Wayne Muller

Opening to the pain from our childhoods (something most of us are familiar with) can help us tap into our resilience and inner fire. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

First line: You are not broken. Last line: To cultivate those qualities of heart and spirit that are available to you in this very moment…

See All 12 Forgiveness Readings

These readings will help you clean up your s*#t with the people in your life, and maybe with yourself.

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