Maimonides’ Four Steps to Apologizing
The most famous laws about apology come to us from the 12th century rabbi, philosopher, and physician Maimonides (1135-1204, Spain), or Rambam, one of the greatest Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. Maimonides wrote codes of law for the Jewish community, clarifying common Jewish practice and accepted standards of observance.
According to Maimonides, four of the most important steps of teshuvah (repentance) are the following:
- Verbally confess your mistake and ask for forgiveness (Mishneh Torah 1:1).
- Express sincere remorse, resolving not to make the same mistake again (Mishneh Torah 2:2).
- Do everything in your power to “right the wrong,” to appease the person who has been hurt by your actions (Mishneh Torah 2:9).
- Act differently if the same situation happens again (Mishneh Torah 2:1).
The fourth concept originates in the Talmud:
We're also given clear guidance on the importance of our intention with an apology--Judaism teaches that in order for an apology to really "count" we have to genuinely MEAN it.
Along with guidance on how to ask for forgiveness, Maimonides also teaches that the recipient of an apology should be open to offering forgiveness and receiving the apology.