With Yomim Noraim coming up, how is it possible to ask Mechila from everyone that may have been hurt by a person’s actions/inactions or speech? It seems so overwhelming. And even if a person is forgiven by everyone and HaShem, how can a person forgive him/herself for all the harm done? It’s such a monumental task…. Thank you.
- You are very correct, as R’ Steinman zt”l used to say, that doing teshuva bein adom l’chaveiro is much harder than bein adom l’makom! The first thing we have to concentrate on, is to rectify and ask mechila from those people, not that we “may” have hurt, but those we know we did hurt. Doing this needs time, and we cannot wait until Erev Yom Kippur to do it. For two reasons; we won’t have time on Erev Yom Kippur to do it, and secondly, when we ask someone on Erev Yom Kippur, they might take it, as “you don’t really care for me or about what you did, you only care about yourself, because it is Erev Yom Kippur”. Therefore, the mechila that people will give beforehand will be much more sincere.
The rule is that we only have to ask mechila from people that were negatively affected by our actions. For example, if someone spoke lashon hora, and the person it was said to replied, that they don’t believe it, then the person spoken about was not negatively affected and there is no need to ask mechila. However, those people that we did speak about, and their reputation, or respect was hurt by what we said, it is from them that we would have to ask mechila.
It is true, it can be a major job, especially for people who speak a lot of lashon hora, they may not even remember who they spoke about…
So what can we do? We have to do the best we can, to remember and ask, all those that we can, and to daven to Hashem to give us the siyata dishmaya that we should get mechila from all those people wo we have hurt. After we have tried to the best of our ability, then we have the idea of the Vilna Gaon. The Vilna Gaon said, (and I think it is based on the Chovos Halevavos) that a person that tries to correct whoever they wronged, and does the best that he can, that Hashem will send his siyata dishmaya. I have personally heard a number of stories where a person did whatever he could to correct a wrong, and Hashem sent the yeshua to the person, in unbelievable ways.
Another point. In “tefilas zaka”, (the tefilla Ashkenazim say before kol nidrei), in the second, long paragraph, we make a declaration, that we are mochel everyone, and we daven to Hashem that everyone that we hurt should decide to be mochel us. This is an important tefilla for everyone, men and women to say, and even if you don’t say it before kol nidrei, you can say it afterwards.
To summarize: We discussed three options, try your best and then you will have siyata dishmaya. Daven that Hashem should put in the hearts of all that you hurt, that they should be mochel you. Say tefilas zaka, and be mochel others, and daven that everyone should be mochel you.
- Being mochel ourselves is a lot easier then others, but your point is very correct. Unfortunately, our yetzer hora gets us to hurt ourselves all the time. Every aveiro that we do, the main person who gets hurt is ourselves, because we ourselves are going to have to pay the price of the aveiro. Additionally, we will also suffer the loss that we didn’t accomplish more by doing more mitzvos. However, although all this is true, Hashem in His unending kindness has given us the mitzva of teshuva, and if we regret what we did, say viduy, and make a solid commitment to slowly correct ourselves, Hashem will be mochel us. In fact, if the person does teshuva correctly, the aveiros that were done can even turn into zechusim! This is all included in Hashem’s unending kindness to us! It is our job however, not to get fooled by the yetzer hora that teshuva is too much for us to do. We can do it, and we will then get cleaned, by no one less than Hashem Himself.