If someone apologizes to you for wronging you, but you either suspect or believe that their apology is insincere, what should/must/may you do in response?

Some subquestions:

  1. Is saying you forgive without actually forgiving (assuming you can't yet manage to actually forgive): Required/Meritorious/Advisable/Permissible/Discouraged/Assur?

  2. How halachically necessary is it to actually abandon your grudge in this case? (Assume it was halachically impossible to rebuke them at the time.)

  3. How might all this vary if you are, say, 40% sure that their apology is insincere, or 80% sure that their apology is 50% insincere, or 100% sure that their apology is 100% insincere?

If the halacha does not provide clear guidelines about what to do in such a situation, please discuss what is considered the most righteous and yashar course of action, ideally with sources. Thank you!


Forgiveness vs. Justice?

Forgiveness in Judaism

  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/10360/472 Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 1:43
  • I have been told that while one can be a vatran one will not be violating anything by refusing an insincere apology, as opposed to a sincere one for which one actually does violate a prohibition.
    – DonielF
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 4:08
  • How would you actually know if the apology was insincere? A poorly made apology isn't necessarily an insincere one
    – Dude
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 11:15
  • @Dude Likely you wouldn't. But this is exactly what I am asking -- Do we take all apologies at face value, and respond to them in the same way?
    – SAH
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 12:31

2 Answers 2


There is a prayer that is found in many Siddurim before the bedtime Shema. You may have seen it, SAH. I took it from this site. Excerpts:

Prayer of Forgiveness by Rabbi Yitsḥak Luria z”l, from the Bedtime Shema (translation by Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi):

Ribono Shel Olam, I hereby forgive whoever has hurt me, And whoever has done me any wrong; Whether it was Deliberately or by accident, Whether it was Done by word or by deed, In this incarnation Or in previous ones. May no one, Be punished on my account.

While this prayer doesn't outright dictate a halacha, it does point to the idea that at the end of each day, one should forgive everyone and anyone unconditionally. It makes no difference as to whether the person apologized in any form or to any extent whatsoever. You completely forgive them.

Your timing on of this question is uncanny. I just posted a blog entry on what I have been doing regarding exactly this issue.


Honesty is the best policy, and it applies here as well ... We just "leined" (I have no idea how you spell this word "leined") - well, KARANU in the last Shabbat about Korach, and all the ALONIM here in Israel called for people to avoid MACHLOKET (MACHLOKET with T in the end, not S, it's MACHLOKET, not machloykeiS) ... Anyway long story short, it's good to avoid Machlokot and avoid fighting with someone else - so if you can be sincere and tell the other person you feel he is not sincere - you would probably manage both to be on the same page by sharing your feelings with each other (just like husband & wife) - of course you have to be gentle with your approach so if you're unsure what to say at that very moment, just wait with it for another time and then speak to him about it later on, but don't hold things if you can't, and if you can LEVATER and accept the apology without going into a further discussion - then that's better.

I think some things don't require Halacha but common sense, Halacha after all believes in common sense ... there was a guy who asked Hilel when he took a shower before Shabbat some questions that Halacha wouldn't have any response to neither.

  • en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 16:48
  • The story about Hillel is mentioned in Avot Derav Nattan as well as some other place in the Gemarah (don't recall other place, offhand.) But it was related to managing anger, not forgiveness. The two behaviors are closely related, though.
    – DanF
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 17:57
  • 1
    Israeli Hebrew is not the only legitimate pronunciation. If you really want to argue that one is more correct than the rest, it's going to be the way the Yemenites do it. But typically people regard all of them as halachically valid.
    – Heshy
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 22:35
  • @Heshy - I am living in an area with lots of TEIMANIM around me and none of them would pronounce the word Machloket like machloykeiS ... yes, I agree all versions are valid, but I don't understand why people like to speaks with ZoiS.
    – arie1985uk
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 5:51
  • because that's how their ancestors for several generations back spoke? Pronouncing ת as t or s doesn't matter all that much - either way, you have three different letter(-variant)s that sound the same: טתּת or סשׂת. If you're going to argue about something, pick something that actually causes an improvement. For example pronouncing ע the Sefardi way or tzeirei the Ashkenazi way distinguishes them from א or segol, which distinguishes between words that otherwise sound the same.
    – Heshy
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 12:22

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