A friend of mine told me we don't have the obligation to apologize to a gentiles. Is this true?

  • 8
    Do we ever have an obligation to apologize to Jews? What obligation are you referring to?
    – Double AA
    Mar 13, 2015 at 17:18
  • 2
    Inversely related (teshuva when a gentile wrongs a Jew): judaism.stackexchange.com/q/45798/472 Mar 13, 2015 at 17:41
  • News to me. If I didn't apologize to Gentiles, I wouldn't be here writing this. Curious - does your friend live in a shtetl? If not, does he apologize to Gentiles? If he does, isn't he lying to himself?
    – DanF
    Mar 13, 2015 at 17:44
  • @DanF He is not lying to himself, just like I'm not lying to myself when I tell myself I have no obligation to eat noodles for lunch today.
    – Double AA
    Mar 13, 2015 at 18:00
  • @DoubleAA Perhaps your commute and your work is gentler than mine. Remember, you asked "what KIND" of obligation. W/o that clarity, I'm assuming that we have an obligation to keep ourselves alive and uninjured by Gentile "wolves" who make a huge deal if we don't apologize to them.
    – DanF
    Mar 13, 2015 at 18:17

1 Answer 1


הֱוֵי מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן, אוֹהֵב שָׁלוֹם וְרוֹדֵף שָׁלוֹם, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת וּמְקָרְבָן לַתּוֹרָה

Be of the students of Aaron: Loving peace and pursuing peace, loving all people and bringing them close to the Torah.

(Tractate Avot 1:12)

In fact, in addition to the basic human decency requirements, there are the additional issues of besmirching the people and G-d you represent by association (chilul hashem) as well as the problems associated with inciting antisemitism.

  • Where does "all" people emanate from this translation? This seems contradictory, because it seems that would imply that we have to bring all people, including Gentiles closer to the Torah, as well. Does that mean that we should teach them Torah, and that's am obligation, as well? The "chilul hashem" idea does not appear to emanate form the Pirkei Avot verse, at all. That's an issue of how we behave in general towards each other as well as gentiles and has nothing to do with apologizing. What does this answer have to do with an obligation to apologize?
    – DanF
    Mar 16, 2015 at 1:34
  • @DanF "אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת" doesn't translate well literally in this context into English ("the created"[?]) - but the language is clearly meant to be more inclusive. In fact, the author of the phrase (Hillel) is singled out for his involvement in bringing Gentiles closer to the Torah even where their seemingly disrespectful statements led his colleague (Shamai) to push them away. With regards to your latter point, common sense dictates that apologizing is part of "how we behave in general" as noted by the questioners tag of "derech-eretz-manners" which means it is also related to chilul hashem.
    – Loewian
    Mar 16, 2015 at 18:32
  • @DanF I'll be honest, I don't really understand your objection.
    – Loewian
    Mar 17, 2015 at 22:42
  • I don't object to the principle, as I feel that it's proper and necessary even to apologize to Gentiles when you have done something wrong (and, sometimes, even if you haven't). I just don't see how the term אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת includes Gentiles. Furthermore, the adage mentions nothing about an obligation to apologize to anyone about anything. I see what you said about Hillel, and I agree with that, but I am focusing solely on the text you use and it doesn't seem to provide any direct proof to answer the question.
    – DanF
    Mar 18, 2015 at 1:52
  • @DanF In Rabbinic literature, briyos is clearly used to refer to all mankind (and sometimes to all living creatures), for example in medrash rabba e.g.:ויהי עשו איש יודע ציד, צד את הבריות בפיו; יקבוהו לאום, זה פרעה שגנז התבואה בשני רעבון והיו הבריות מקללין אותו, ;והיה מלסטם את הבריות, שנא׳ והוא יהיה פרא אדם; or most explicitly: (shemos rabba 20:6) כל הימים שהיו הבריות רואים את ישראל, היו משבחין אותן.ומי היה משבחן?בלעם הרשע, שנאמר מה טובו אהליך יעקב כנחלים נטיו. בלעם ראה אותן ותמה, פרעה ראה אותם שורות שורות, ...! לכן נאמר: ויהי בשלח פרעה: daat.ac.il/daat/tanach/raba2/20.htm etc.
    – Loewian
    Mar 18, 2015 at 4:13

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