The other night on the bus ride home, a woman behind me rammed the stroller she was pushing into my shins. I didn't say anything. Then she did it again. I didn't say anything. Then she did it again. I really felt she was being careless and it hurt. So I turned around and [HASHEM FORGIVE ME!!!!] said in a calm but perturbed Hebraic voice that three times she hit me and could she be more careful.
I was waiting for the response - "I'm sorry".
None was forthcoming. She just stared at me in [what seemed to be] disbelief. Maybe the disbelief was that a guy in a round chasidic hat and untrimmed beard spoke to her [a frum married woman]? Maybe she was tongue-tied and didn't know what to say? Maybe she was French and didn't understand a word I was saying? Maybe she listens to my shiurim or comes to the blog and just couldn't believe that I am actually a person and not just on a computer screen? Who knows. And who cares. Our "relationship" started and ended in those few seconds of stroller derby. May she and the child in her stroller have only bracha and simcha. And millions of dollars. And good health. And everything else that they might want li-tova.
But I am happy it happened because it made me think of the power of a word. Sorry.
If the sorry is expanded into what the person is sorry about and why, with an assurance that it won't happen again, then all the better. So try this not necessarily with complete strangers but with the people to whom you are closest. THAT is a WONDERFUL avodah as we approach Elul.
I know people who haven't apologized in decades. They just can't be wrong or at fault. Hashem should have mercy on their souls. But we are mevakshei lev and mevakshei Hashem. We KNOW that we aren't perfect and are proud of it. To be imperfect is to be human and aren't we proud to be human! To apologize is to validate the pain of another human being, to acknowledge that we wronged him in some way, that we care, that it now hurts and bothers us like it hurt and bothered him. To apologize is an attempt to rectify the past while establishing a better future.
You know the line "Don't try this at home"? Here I say "Try this at home. It is NOT dangerous."
And remember this: