Volume 3, Number 159
'There's a Jewish story everywhere'

Sunday-Monday, July 19-20, 2009


The awesome power of an apology

With Parshat Masei from G-dcast

By Rabbi Baruch Lederman

SAN DIEGO—Much of the suffering we experience during the exile can be traced back to the incident of Kamptza Bar Kamptza. The Talmud explains that a misunderstanding between two individual Jews leading to one man's humiliation, spread to the point that a war ensued and the Bais Hamikdash (Holy Temple) was destroyed by the Romans. We can minimize conflict and misunderstanding, and avoid or reduce embarrassment through sincere communication, as the following true story illustrates:

Alan Greenberg, M.D. (name changed) asked to speak to me one day and said, "I want to thank you Rabbi Lederman. The Torah lessons you taught me helped me a great deal in a recent situation."

Dr. Greenberg continued, "I work closely with an assistant Kyle. We work together 6 hours a day every day. Kyle is a bright capable personable young man. One day Kyle was very excited and told me that he had just decided to enroll in a course to become an LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse). Kyle was beaming with pride and satisfaction.

I immediately told Kyle, 'You don't want to be an LVN. You should become an RN (Registered Nurse). An RN is much better than an LVN'. Kyle was crestfallen after my comment but I didn't notice it.

"I noticed after this that Kyle was beginning to act withdrawn and started to close up emotionally toward me. I finally came to realize that he took my comment about becoming an RN as an insult toward being an LVN. This did not occur to me at all at the time as my intentions were completely constructive not destructive.

"By now I was convinced that Kyle was put off because of my comment. This is when I thought of you Rabbi Lederman. You taught us on Yom Kippur that if we commit a sin against another human being, we must seek that person out and ask for forgiveness. I decided that I needed to put that plan into

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action. This is easier said than done, but when you told us this on Yom Kippur, you had such unsinkable optimism that I felt I could do this.

"I approached Kyle and asked if we could sit down and speak. I told him calmly and clearly that I realized that my RN-LVN comment the other day sounded insulting and demeaning, but I assured him that I did not mean it that way. I explained from the bottom of my heart that my comment was based on the fact that I felt Kyle possessed tremendous talent and intelligence. An RN is trained to do higher level procedures than an LVN. Being an LVN is a wonderful thing, but I felt that Kyle because of his great gifts could shoot for and accomplish even more.

"Ever since that conversation, Kyle has been more animated, outgoing and relaxed; and our relationship is better than ever."

I told Dr. Greenberg that if the two men in the Kamptza Bar Kamptza episode could have talked out their differences the way you and Kyle did, our entire history would be different indeed.

Dedicated in honor of Dov Perkal's birthday by his family. Dedicated by Michael & Rivka Spiegel in honor of their children Estee, Tzvi, Aaron, Avigail, & Miriam.

stripe Copyright 2007-2009 - San Diego Jewish World, San Diego, California. All rights reserved.

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