The First to Say, ‘I’m Sorry’

Yael Eckstein  |  June 17, 2024

Bishop Lanier hugging a man

The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. — Numbers 5:23

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Naso, which means “count,” from Numbers 4:21–7:89.

I once heard a joke about a husband and wife who weren’t speaking to each other. The husband had a dilemma since he needed his wife to wake him at five the next morning so he could catch a flight. Not wanting to be the one to capitulate first, he wrote her a note saying, “Please wake me up at five,” and placed it on her pillow. The next morning, the man woke up at seven. “Why didn’t you wake me?” he yelled at his wife. “I did!” she replied and pointed to a piece of paper next to him. It read, “Get up!”

The joke is funny, but the sad truth is that many relationships are damaged by personal pride. In the 17 years that I’ve been married, I have learned that while the most important ingredient in a healthy marriage is love, the second most important ingredient is humility. Without the ability to let go of pride, all the love in the world cannot preserve a marriage in the long run. Yet, if even just one party in a relationship is willing to become more humble, a relationship can undergo healing and complete restoration.

Saying, ‘I’m Sorry’

In this week’s Torah portion, we learn about the ritual procedure carried out when a woman was suspected of being unfaithful. As part of the process, God’s name was written on a piece of paper and dissolved in water that the woman would drink. If nothing happened to the woman after drinking the water, she was vindicated, and the marriage was restored.

The Jewish sages noted that this procedure demonstrated how much God values peace in the home—He was even willing to sacrifice His own honor by having His name erased in order to restore harmony.

Friends, if God can let His honor be diminished for the sake of harmony, so can we. We can be the first to speak and the first to say, “I’m sorry.” We can place someone else’s feelings above our own pride. Sometimes, the bigger person is the one who knows how to make himself small. It is in humility that we find our true glory.

Your Turn:

How might you infuse more humility into your most cherished relationships?