[Avodah] No apologies, just a kiss

Akiva Miller akivagmiller at gmail.com
Thu Sep 16 20:24:53 PDT 2021

I read an interesting article over Yom Kippur. Link:

A main point of the article is that the idea of people apologizing to one
another, or forgiving one another, seems to be almost totally absent from
Tanach. If you want to challenge this, or if you want to see why I
qualified it with the word "almost", please read the article first. I'd
like to hear your comments.

Here's the part that you DO NOT need the article for: He claims, and I
verified it in my concordance, that the root mem-ches-lamed - mechilah,
forgiveness - does not appear anywhere in Tanach.

A near-synonym would be samech-lamed-ches, selichah. According to my
concordance, this appears in Tanach 46 times as a verb, and 3 as a noun -
far fewer than I would have imagined. I didn't verify every single one, but
from a cursory look, it seems that in all cases, it is Hashem Who does this
kind of forgiveness. Not people.

So my questions to the chevra are:

(1) From where did we get the word "mochel", linguistically?

(2) From where did we get the *concept* of apology or forgiveness, among
people? If I hurt you in some way, of course I might be concerned that you
will get back at me somehow. But above and beyond that, even if there is no
fear of retribution, halacha insists that I must still apologize to you,
and I still need your forgiveness. Where does this come from? Are there any
stories in Tanach about such situations? (Note that the linked article
mentions some possible stories, including Yosef and his brother, Yaakov and
Esav, David and Avshalom. So if you want to cite those, please first look
to see what the article says.)

Akiva Miller

Irrelevant side point: I thought it might be helpful to see how "apologize"
is rendered in Hebrew. Two different dictionaries suggested "l'hitnatzel".
This word sounded to me like a made-up invention for Modern Hebrew, but it
actually appears in Shemos 33:6. On the other hand, whatever it might mean
there, it does *not* mean to apologize.
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