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  • Writer's pictureRabbi David Paskin

I'm Sorry vs. I Was Wrong

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From Rabbi David

I don't remember exactly what prompted me to ask this question but something did and I've been thinking about it ever since. When we are teaching children (or ourselves for that matter) about teshuvah (returning, repenting) I wonder if we should be teaching them about saying "I'm sorry" or about saying "I was wrong"?

I'm a huge fan of saying "I'm sorry." I have a sign posted by my desk that reads: "Apologizing does not always mean that you're wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego." Saying "I'm sorry" is not an admission that you did something wrong - only that another person is in pain and you can offer some comfort.

Saying "I was wrong" on the other hand is much more powerful (and maybe painful). It is an admission that you bear some of the fault for why the other person is feeling that pain. "I'm sorry" is about caring for the feelings of another - "I was wrong" is about acknowledging that there is something within you that needs repair.

Of course, the High Holy Days are about both - caring for others and bettering ourselves. I would love to hear what you think. Are you an "I'm sorry" or an "I was wrong"?

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