What should be the first thing one should correct before Yom Kippur?
Now, to be facetious I’ll say the first thing is to correct himself.
Of course you’ll ask, in ‘himself’ what’s the first thing?
The very first thing we must do is to make sure that all the wrongs that he committed against his fellow man are righted.
Other things could perhaps be rectified during Yom Kippur. But if somebody has an outstanding complaint against you, then you have to realize nothing is going to help. אין יום הכיפורים מכפר עד שירצה את חבירו – Yom Kippur won’t help if you haven’t appeased your fellow Jew who you sinned against (Yoma 85b).
That’s why it’s so important to learn to say ‘Forgive me.’ And don’t wait for Yom Kippur.
The am ha’aretz doesn’t do that. The am ha’aretz insults people and never thinks to beg forgiveness.
The talmid chochom is always careful with people. But if he does step on somebody’s feet, he is quick to admit the error and he asks forgiveness.
So it should be a habit constantly asking people to forgive you.
Now, it’s a small matter to get forgiveness because most people are willing to yield once they see you are contrite; but you have to ask it. Even calling up on the telephone is worthwhile. And it should be done to as many people with who you had dealings as possible if there’s a slightest suspicion that you wronged them in any way. That’s the number one requirement before Yom Kippur.
TAPE # 568 (September 1985)