Lose the Argument and Win the Relationship

The eve of Yom Kippur is the appropriate time to pick up the phone to friends and family from whom we have drifted and seek to draw closer. This is especially true of those whom we may have wronged. But it's also true of those who have wronged us. The Lubavitcher Rebbe once told a man who came to see him, "It's better to lose an argument and win a friendship, then win an argument and lose a friendship."

Elton John got it right. Sorry is the hardest word, especially when we believe that the other party owes us the apology. But how do we profit from being right if our righteous indignation also guarantees our loneliness? Sure, noone should be a doormat. I'm not advocating that we allow ourselves to be stepped on. But we can certainly call a friend who has wounded us and say that, while we believe the injury they inflicted was unnecessary, we still want to be the ones to reach out and take responsibly for anything we might have done to precipitate a falling out.

On Yom Kippur, as we ask God for forgiveness, He turns the tables on us and says, "OK, you're asking me to be forgiven. You're promising to be better. But I recall you made the same request last, and the same commitment last year, only to break your word. So I'll tell you what. I'll judge you by the same standard you judge others. If you're forgiving of others, I'll be forgiving of you. And, conversely, if you withhold forgiveness and choose instead to feel wounded, I will take note."

I wish you all well over the fast and bless you with a healthy and prosperous new year.