What should be the first thing one should correct before Yom Kippur?
To be facetious, I’ll say the first thing is to correct yourself. But of course you’ll ask, “But in myself, what’s the first thing?”
The very first thing you must do is to make sure that all the wrongs that you committed against your fellow man are righted. Other things could perhaps be rectified during Yom Kippur – for many things you can do teshuva on Yom Kippur – but if somebody has an outstanding complaint against you, then you have to realize nothing is going to help until you get forgiveness from that person. אין יום כיפור מכפר עד שירצה את חבירו. 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 on the other hand is always careful with people, but if he does step on somebody’s feet, he is quick to admit the error and ask forgiveness. So it should be a habit constantly to be asking people to forgive you.
Now, really 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 for it. Even calling up on the telephone is worthwhile; and it should be done to as many people as possible with whom you had dealings with if there’s the slightest suspicion that you wronged them in any way. That’s the number one requirement before Yom Kippur.
TAPE # 568 (September 1985)