Learning How to Say “I’m Sorry”

by Evan Traylor / June 12, 2019


It’s the time of the Jewish year when we need to start figuring out one of the hardest things to do: apologize to people who we’ve hurt. No, it’s not time for Yom Kippur (you’ve got until October this year), but in this week’s Torah portion, “Parashat Naso”, we receive this wisdom:

“When a person commits any wrong toward a fellow man, thus breaking faith with the Lord, and that person realizes their guilt, they shall confess the wrong that they have done. They shall make restitution in the principal amount and add one-fifth to it, giving to the person whom they have wronged.” – Numbers 5: 6-8

All of us make mistakes. We’re not always there for people, we talk bad about others, we ignore our families, and judge others too quickly. But it’s all about how we respond to these mistakes and repair the relationships we’ve harmed.

These verses don’t give us all the answers, but it clearly lays out the most important steps to say “I’m sorry” and move forward with our relationships:

  • “And that person realizes their guilt” – In order to start this process, you must recognize the harm you’ve caused;
  • “They shall confess the wrong they have done” – Next, tell the person how you’ve hurt them and apologize for your actions;
  • “They shall make restitution in the principal amount and add one-fifth to it” – Name the negative impact you’ve had on the person; and
  • “Giving to the person whom they have wronged” – Work with the person toward repairing your relationship through giving and goodwill.

Again, Parashat Naso doesn’t give us all of the answers to effectively saying “I’m sorry.” But it’s a place to start, and one that will slowly rebuild the relationships in our lives.



evanAbout the Author: Evan Traylor, originally from Oklahoma City, currently works at the Union for Reform Judaism and is an aspiring rabbi. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 2016 studying political science and Jewish studies. Evan loves reading, traveling, exploring DC, and cheering on the KU Jayhawks.