If I Have Done Anything To OFFEND YOU...©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This essay study is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Paul Sakash, may he rest in peace.

This eight word phrase, If I have done anything to offend you, is normally followed up with I'm sorry. This is a common phrase used to palm off a half baked apology. Is this hollow phrase actually an apology? Definitely NOT! Why not?

First, an apology is the clear, well thought out act / result of SHUVAH. The basis for repentance is ownership of the misdeed. A half baked apology represents the LACK OF OWNERSHIP and the lack of shuvah! Lack of owning a misdeed results from either IGNORANCE, DENIAL, PRIDE, BLATANT HYPOCRISY or SKEWED JUDGMENT! Each of these are problems with medos.

If you are unsure as to whether you have committed a misdeed or not, simply ask, How does this stand in view of what the Torah requires of me? Very few need ask this question because WE USUALLY KNOW WHEN WE HAVE WRONGED ANOTHER! Hashem gave us a very strong sense of right and wrong.

A person living in denial may very well know the truth. In fact denial is denial because it is the act of denying what we know or believe to be true. It is denial of that constant knock of the Yetzer Tov with the truth!

Pride is like a barricade blocking one's approach to apology. Pride stands in the way. It's very difficult to get around. Beating pride is a great accomplishment!

Hypocrisy is the practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not follow oneself. In other words one teaches others to apologize properly but neglects to follow their own teaching.

Understanding that shuvah requires us to come to grips with the fact that we have definitely wronged another demands on occasion that we, the offender, review in our mind what happened. Frequently we knowingly tend to be overly lenient with our self. This results in a skewed judgment.

If we can get by all of these, we may actually be able to acknowledge or own up to the fact that we have done wrong. Yet, we cannot even begin to arrive at an acknowledgement on the misled pre condition of......IF I HAVE OFFENDED.... Acknowledging a misdeed is a definite act of ownership! When we acknowledge that we have done wrong then we are on the road to shuvah. If.... is an escape through the back door. If... is a leak in the bucket. IF...IS NOT ACKNOWLEDGEMENT!

The next step of Shuvah is to determine not to repeat the mistake... (IF ACTUALLY WE MADE IT IN THE FIRST PLACE). How can one do shuvah if they have not come to grips with the fact that they have made a mistake? How can one determine not to repeat the same error if they have not clearly defined it as an error?

Each of us must first come to grips with what our problem / problems are, then make a plan dealing with our problem / problems! If is a cop out! If is quicksand. We must establish that we have a problem or we will not deal with it!

Finally, restitution is required. We must pay the fair price for our misdeed... I don't like to pay for my misdeeds, who does? Just the same, an eye for an eye is what the Torah requires.

Now the second part of IF I HAVE OFFENDED YOU is that an offense is not dependent upon my judgments or my whimsical feelings. It is dependent upon the Torah. The Torah views each of us differently. For example those that are supposed to be closer to Hashem such as a Kohen Godal, a Kohen, a Rav, a Rosh HaYeshiva, or a Rabbi are held AND EXPECTED TO LIVE BY A HIGHER STANDARD! As a result G-d requires increasingly higher standards for people that PROFESS TO BE LIVING IN HASHEM'S SHADOW!!!

So an offense is not dependent upon or based upon how one feels!!! As a result, why would any of us state, IF I HAVE OFFENDED YOU... knowing it is not dependent on feelings?

Once an individual visited about a particular problem. Upon leaving that individual stated, You are obviously hurt. You have expressed pain. I am sorry. Without knowing the story that led up to this, it is still clear that the individual was not accepting ownership for their role in the hurt and for their role in causing the pain. Their apology was NOT an apology. It was a sympathy card! It was I am sorry you are hurt. I am sorry you feel pain. But I am not sorry that I caused you the hurt. I am not sorry that I caused you the pain! There is a difference between apology and sympathy.

When an individual is not a Kohen Godal, a Kohen, a Rav, a Rosh HaYeshiva, or a Rabbi it is WRONG to expect that individual to live by the standards a Kohen Godal, a Kohen, a Rav, a Rosh HaYeshiva, or a Rabbi. G-d does not require it!

So on one hand we have the person of position who lives below what G-d requires and on the other we have the person of no position who is expected to live higher than what G-d requires. Then we factor in the insincere, uncommitted, unowned, unacknowledged IF I HAVE OFFENDED YOU....or....I AM SORRY. And then we have the audacity to claim that we have apologized!

In bowling, we keep a record of the strikes, the spares and the gutter balls. Our lives are like that regardless of our acknowledgements or unwillingness to accept ownership. The Scorekeeper is impartial.

Other Related Subjects:

Am I Doomed By My Intentional Sin?

Making A Visible Change

But I Said I'm Sorry

Separating From Parents Who Are In Error

Family Problems

Best wishes,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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