As we approach the most auspicious time of the Jewish year, I like to review short pieces and an-ecdotes that help me remember my goals and tasks of this time. Here I have included a short piece that was put out by a wonderful organization, Ayeka led by Rabbi Aryeh ben David. I look for-ward to increasing my spirituality with all of you in the coming weeks.
The Holy Wimp
For all the time and drama and words and prayers this month - it really is not so compli-cated. Let's simplify it down to the most basic level:
The month of Elul leads up to Rosh HaShana. Rosh HaShana leads up to Yom HaKippur. Yom HaKippur is called Yom HaSlicha u'Mechila, the Day of Forgiveness and Pardoning. For all the inner work we do at this time of year - there is a very clear and down-to-earth goal - forgiveness. Or to put it even more simply: Giving someone a second chance.
That's it. Can we, after all the introspection, davenning, meals, conversations, and learning - just give one person a second chance? If so, then it all was worth it. If not, then it was all a show. Yom HaKippur is 120 days after Moses first went up Mount Sinai. He came down after 40 days with the first tablets and saw the Jewish people celebrating the golden calf. He went back up for 40 days to make peace with God. He then came back down the mountain after another 40 days (120 total) with the second set of tablets and saw the Jewish People fasting and praying solemnly. God then forgives them. The second tablets symbolize giving a second chance. The 10 Commandments are intrinsically linked with God's forgiveness.
Why is forgiveness so central to the holidays?
Because without forgiveness there is no hope. Because we all mess up and at some time we all disappoint each other and ourselves. Getting to forgiveness often necessitates bringing up uncomfortable stuff. I recently had a mess-up. A difficult busi-ness transaction ended badly - someone disappointed me and on top of that became very defensive. Now we're at a standstill.
At times like this, I tend to wimp out, retreat, and do anything to avoid confrontation. This only allows the bad feel-ings to fester, or get dumped on to someone else. It doesn't ultimately make space for forgiveness or allowing a sec-ond chance. What I have to remember is that holiness begins with creating situations of forgiveness. That's the goal. Wimping out doesn't enable either party to forgive.
We're more fragile than we'd like to believe. And we mess up more than we'd like to admit. Creating a forgiving community is following G-d's message on Yom Kippur. We all need second chances. Elul is the time to get unstuck. Nothing gets us unstuck like forgiving someone.
THIS WEEK'S CHALLENGE:
Think about which relationship of yours is stuck. Who do you need to give a second chance?
Has anyone ever offered you a moment of forgiveness? Did you feel G-d in that moment?
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