It is a mitzvah to beg for forgiveness on the eve of Yom Kippur from those you have wronged in the previous year. As I understand it, this is necessary at once as a practical tikkun; as a necessary component of our teshuvah/atonement; and as a prerequisite to our forgiveness by G-d on Yom Kippur.

Please bring sources which go some way toward answering whether, and to what extent, it is necessary* to apologize before Yom Kippur for a sin against one's fellow that is more than a year old. Assume one failed to apologize last year.

*I assume it would, in any case, be desirable. I am ideally seeking a source which specifically addresses whether a late request for forgiveness is halachically required.

  • Why might the time of the sin matter? And why would a time difference of one year be more relevant than one week or one decade?
    – Double AA
    Jun 20, 2016 at 19:54
  • @DoubleAA Can you help me with that? I agree it needs to be in the question.
    – SAH
    Jun 20, 2016 at 19:54
  • 1
    I can't help, because I don't know why it would matter.
    – Double AA
    Jun 20, 2016 at 20:27

1 Answer 1


The Mishna in Yoma 8 (9) quoted in your link says

עברות שבין אדם למקום, יום הכפורים מכפר........ עברות שבין אדם לחברו , אין יום הכפורים מכפר, עד שירצה את חברו

Yom Kippur atones for sins between one and Hashem but does not atone for sins against one's fellow man until one appeases him.

That means that if I did not appease my fellow-man before last Yom Kippur, my sin against him and Hashem remains un-atoned for and I must appease him now.

This was codified as Halacha by the Rambam הלכות תשובה, פרק ב, הלכה ט

Teshuvah and Yom Kippur only atone for sins between man and God; for example, a person who ate a forbidden food or engaged in forbidden sexual relations, and the like. However, sins between man and man; for example, someone who injures a colleague, curses a colleague, steals from him, or the like will never be forgiven until he gives his colleague what he owes him and appeases him.

[It must be emphasized that] even if a person restores the money that he owes [the person he wronged], he must appease him and ask him to forgive him. Even if a person only upset a colleague by saying [certain] things, he must appease him and approach him [repeatedly] until he forgives him.

And by the Shulchan Oruch Orach Chaim 606

  1. Sins that are between one and his fellow, Yom Kippur does not atone for unless he appeases him (receives forgiveness). Even if he only injured him with words, he must attain forgiveness. If he does not forgive him at first, he must try again and go to him a second and a third time. On each attempt he should bring with him three men. And if he does not forgive him after three attempts, he is unable to force him to do so. [However, he should say afterwards before ten men that he wants that person to forgive him.] And if that man is his Rabbi, he must go to him many times until he forgives him. [The forgiver should not be harsh in forgiving if he does not want to give in to the requester’s plea. If the requester gave him a bad name (הוציא עליו שׁם רע), one is not obligated to forgive him.]
  • Thanks, interesting source! It definitely adds to your answer, although I daresay it does not go all the way in exactly addressing my question (since there is the implication that all of this is being done before Yom Kippur as a necessary precondition for atonement)
    – SAH
    Jun 20, 2016 at 21:50
  • I wonder, do you know what exactly the Shulchan Arukh means by "rabbi" here?
    – SAH
    Jun 20, 2016 at 21:51
  • 1
    @SAH I could see two possible answers: 1- A "rabbi" here is anyone who represents the religion in the eyes of the masses. This way, an offense isn't only to the person, but also to what he stands for. And therefore the rabbi's guilt in not forgiving when asked only gets the offense to the rabbi cleared, but not the offense to G-d. 2- A rabbi here is anyone in a position of mentoring over the offender, and therefore may be withholding forgiveness because it's his job to make sure the person's teshuvah is authentic. 3- Both of the above in the same person. Jun 21, 2016 at 15:33

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