If you’re a person who apologizes, you may find yourself in a distinct minority here in Israel.
Now, me, I’m Canadian. Apologizing is one of the things we do best.
Two days before we left Canada, I was in the grocery store getting some last-minute things to bring with us, and I was pushing my cart down the HUGE, wide aisle, and another woman was coming the other way down the HUGE, wide aisle. I passed her with my cart and she passed me with her cart, and there was lots of room to spare on both sides. And as we passed each other, I apologized AND she apologized, at exactly the same moment.
For being close to each other's spaces. It's hilarious, but it's also true. We feel very uncomfortable when we are anywhere near other human beings. In Canada, there's about 1/4 of a square km for every person, while in Israel (I just checked!) - there's 0.0026982436083974 of a square km.
We also don't want to cause anyone a moment's discomfort.
On our aliyah flight we switched seats in the middle of the night and the flight attendant was confused in the morning, so I apologized - and she said, "You're Israeli now. Stop apologizing!"
In Israel it's very warm and very close, which is sometimes good and sometimes bad. Nobody apologizes for anything.
It is a good thing sometimes, to not be too apologetic. As a nation, Israel sometimes needs to stand up for what it believes in and not let anybody convince us otherwise. I noticed this bumper sticker on the wall of the bus station in Jerusalem this morning.
It says: “Israel: Trust in Hashem, and not in America.” Sometimes, Israel is so busy apologizing to America, or at least, trying to look nice for the Americans, that it loses sight of its own values.
The only problem with trusting in Hashem is that none of us have a direct hotline to Hashem, which means that sometimes Israelis make mistakes and don’t apologize. Either way, I guess, is a problem – too much apologizing, or not enough.