Ask the Rabbi

Teshuva for minor damage


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Av 28, 5782
10 years ago, I opened a beer bottle on someones dining room wooden table and it made a small, hard to notice dent or chip in the table. At the time I was too embarrassed to tell the owner about what I did but I recently recalled this incident and would like to do teshuva. 1. Am I obligated to tell the owner about what happened and offer to compensate for the damage somehow? 2. How would the value of the damage be assessed? Thank you
ב"ה Shalom, Sorry for the delay in my answer. First of all, it is wonderful to see to have someone muster the courage to make up for something done so many years ago. Well, you'll have to make contact with the people and tell them that you would like to pay for the damage you did. The question is, if the table actually lost value for the damage done. If the table didn't really lose its value, then there is no need to pay. An estimate has to be done, to see if there was really any loss in value. Once you have paid, since your intention was not to cause damage purposely, the payment itself is your forgiveness, even if the owner doesn't want to forgive you. Even if they have sold the table, you are still responsible for the damage caused then. All the best "How fortunate are you, Israel, before Whom are you purified, and Who purifies you? It is your Father in heaven… (Mishna Yoma 8:9)
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