Last night a friend of mine asked me to forgive me for any wrong she'd done to me in the last year, etc. etc. It's a seasonal hazard. The customary response is to forgive and to ask for the same. Well, I did the first, but I'm not comfortable doing the latter. I don't like pro-forma requests for blanket pardons, I like to ask forgiveness for things I actually feel remorse for. At grade school, for days before the BIG DAY, we'd walk around like marionettes, "do you forgive me?" do you forgive me?" The rowdy ones would slap each other first, to give the other one something to forgive.
And I know what you're thinking. (either "I don't grok any of this" or) Does the nature of misdeeds demand that you make a blanket apology? What about the remarks that you've made that were hurtful that you didn't even notice? Or when you thoughtlessly embarassed someone and didn't notice? They remember, even if you don't? But how I can be sorry and truely repent of it if I don't know what it is? Asking someone to forgive me and accepting their forgiveness without ever really knowing what I did to need it is shallow at best.
And yes, we ask G-d to forgive us on that basis, but we go through a list of things with G-d. I'm sorry for all the times I was a jackass, I'm sorry for all the times I was a pompous jerk, I'm sorry for all the times I dissed you, even if I did it without realizing it, it writes on our soul the way Professor Umbridge's quill writes on Harry's hand, we don't have that with people. And I try to have a list in mind of specific instances (representative samples) of all my bad behaviors just as I try to have a list with me on RH when go to beg for things from the Our Father, Our King (another name!).
But I do have some specifics I can forgive, and request forgiveness for in turn.
To all the jerks who've ever irritated me by driving stupidly, I forgive you, and request forgiveness for all the times I was that jerk driving stupidly.
To all the people I've offended in lj with a thoughtless comment, get over it. I mean, uh, I'm sorry, I'll try to post with consideration and kindness, if I don't, please let me know. You guys aren't usually shy, so I hope this won't be a problem.
And to Marci and Frank, for all the times I've let you down, and not been what you hoped for there is no forgiveness. All I can do is promise to be better next time.