I was driving and a driver ahead of me in the same lane had stopped his car in the middle of the lane, it seemed his car broke down. The speed of travel was about 35 miles per hour and there were cars behind me. I had to stop quickly to not hit the car in front, but the car behind me may not have seen over me, and I did not want them to crash into me. I quickly put my blinking lights on and honked the horn for about 3 seconds, with the intention of notifying the driver behind me to be alert, I have to stop in the middle of the road. (I was nervous and tried with Hashem’s help to do the best I could in the situation). The driver in front of me (whose car broke down) thought I was honking at him and responded with a hand gesture indicating a curse and went back into his car. I tried to indicate to him that I wasn’t honking at him by shaking my hand as if to say “I wasn’t honking at you”- I had no issue with him, and still don’t. He was in a difficult situation…) My questions are:
1. I don’t know this person. Does the above scenario warrant me asking mechila (per halacha) or I am not required to ask mechila because there was no aveira.
2. It says that if someone is upset with you before the New Year, you should make peace with them- Hashem wants us to get forgiveness from those we wrong. If I do not know this person and do not know how to find him, how can I ask forgiveness / or is asking forgiveness not necessary?
3. Could this situation be considered embarrassing someone (as if I embarrassed him by honking even if I did not intend to embarrass him? I do not know if he is Jewish)
4. Should I be concerned that he indicated a curse with a hand gesture? We learn that those that curse are cursed and those that bless are blessed, but should I be concerned about it because I do not know him and would not know how to track him down to “fix it.”
Any guidance regarding how to handle this is sincerely appreciated. I did teshuva to Hashem and also forgave the man and asked Hashem to have him forgive me and not hold a grudge on me. Thanks again.
Thank you for your question.
What you did at the time was the correct thing to do. It was in order to protect the driver in back of you and yourself. The fact that the driver in front of you misunderstood what you were doing doesn’t mean you did something wrong. His getting angry was obvious because he was tense and under pressure and wasn’t interested in being criticized. You should not be concerned about asking him mechila, about him being upset with you. You did what had to be done. The fact that he cursed is his problem, he didn’t mean it as a curse rather an inappropriate way of expressing his frustration with the situation he was in. Additionally you don’t have to be concerned that you embarrassed him, again, you didn’t mean it and this is what you had to do to protect yourself from the danger that his car caused.