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.

If it seemed (a) possible or (b) probable that asking someone in a particular case for forgiveness would result in shame to them, should one do it? I understand that doing so would undermine the first intended result of this mitzvah (that is, it would preclude ritzui and piyus on a practical level), but it might all the same enable fulfillment of the other two results--or simply be required by halacha anyway. Is it? Why or why not?

(I am leaving aside the fact that asking for forgiveness would in this case lead to other halachic violations in light of the principle that a positive mitzvah usually takes precedence over a competing negative mitzvah.)

  • I seem to recall we have the question already, and I seem to recall it's specific to lashon hara rather than generally about any embarrassing situation, but I can't find it.
    – msh210
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 22:19
  • Why would your own tikkun be worth another persons suffering? Does it not seem unlikely that a violation of bein adam l'chavero would require causing another person pain (possibly more than he even incurred in the first place)?
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 23:59
  • @mevaqesh, see my answer. Barukh shekivanta ledaato shel Rav Yisrael! Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 16:09
  • @MichaBerger I was aware of both the Chafets Chaim, and Rav Yisrael. My opinion is that the view of Rav Yisrael should be intuitive, and not merely one side in an abstract machkloket, that we happen to side with.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 23:04

2 Answers 2


The Chafeitz Chaim (Hilkhos LH 4:12) rules that you cannot do real teshuvah for speaking ill of someone without confessing to the person you spoke about. Even if they did not know of it before, so that you end up hurting the person you wronged. They say that Rav Yisrael Salanter disagreed, and so deeply that he refused to write an approbation to the whole book unless this ruling was corrected. According to what is attributed to Rav Yisrael, it is prohibited to do teshuvah at the expense of another.

However, the Chafeitz Chaim also rules (Mishnah Berurah 606:3) that "when he asks forgiveness, he must spell out how he wronged his friend. But if he knows his friend would be embarrassed by the sin being spelled out, then he should not spell them out."

Based on this, Rav Shelomo Zalman Auerbach (Halikhos Shelomo 1:3:6) understands the Chafetz Chaim as making a distinction between causing grief, as in finding out a rumor was told about him, and the Mishnah Berurah's case of causing embarrassment.

Since the question referred to causing shame, Rav Shelomo Zalman would rule according to either sage is no. One is not allowed to ask forgiveness when doing so would embarrass the victim.


While it is always a "mitzvah" to seek forgiveness and spread peace, there is no specific command or halachic requirement to ask for forgiveness before Yom Kippur. It is simply a practical necessity to achieve complete atonement. There can be no justification to deliberatly cause pain to another. The first source in the question starts off saying that "it is customary to ask forgiveness" and later explains several reasons why this is customary prior to Yom Kippur.


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