getting ready for repentance

at sundown tonight Yom Kippur begins. A time to continue reflection on the year before, to look forward to the year to come. A day for serious introspection, to point out your failings, to ask for forgiveness.

This past week was supposed to be spent asking everyone you know to forgive any actions you may have done that upset or hurt them and to forgive all around you, no matter how they hurt you. I mentioned this blanketing of forgiveness to a friend and he was unimpressed. “How can you ask for forgiveness without pointing to a specific action?” he said. It didn’t seem like a valid form of repentance to not note and feel one action. But one of the things i have always felt useful about the holiday is the chance to wipe the slate clean. There isn’t the need to obsess over one thing but rather the acknowledgment that your actions have hurt others whether you meant to or not. That you are not perfect and will make mistakes. That you have caused pain.

And it goes the other way as well. Once you have the realization of your own negative actions  then you also grow to realize that those who have hurt you are the same. They may not have meant it, they may not even realize that you were hurt. So you need to forgive as well. You need to release them the same way you hope to be released.

Some negative actions are premeditated, of course.  But those also require forgiveness. On Yom Kippur you let it go: the hurts, the pains, the betrayals, the selfishness.  You release and you forgive.

And it’s not only your own actions but all actions. The community has hurt others, the community has allowed pain. Now is the time to wipe that slate clean. Unfortunately the Israeli government doesn’t seem to take the same view of the day as myself. But I still hope for them, for the Palestinians and for all others under occupation and oppression. I hope that we can forgive the actions of the past and move forward to a place of peace and justice.

I know I may be naive but now is the time for it. I forgive you, those I know and those I don’t. And I hope that you can forgive me, even if we have never met.

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