Forgiving Yourself and Others

As Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year in Judaism approaches, all of the Jewish people turn inwards in self-reflection. In Israel, everything is coming to a halt. Ben Gurion airport, our only major international airport, is closed, television and radio stations have ceased broadcasting, and roads are closing down. Tomorrow, roads will be empty except for emergency vehicles and bicycles, and the majority of Israelis, secular and religious, will fast.

I only wanted to add something to the millions of facebook posts, blogs, and social media bites to the theme of tomorrow. All year, we’ve made mistakes. We’ve wronged others, acted unkindly, hurt one another, and said things that we cannot take back. We’ve neglected what is important and wasted time on the trivial, and we’ve treasured the crass and forgotten the real value of what’s important. We’ve done these things to others, but we’ve also done them to ourselves. As easy as it is to go through the prayers and see all of the wrongs man can inflict on his fellow, unseen is the savagery we can do to ourselves.

The beautiful thing about Judaism is that we don’t say to ourselves that our sins are a badge of shame to be worn on our chests, they are merely lines on a ledger; and with a new year that ledger is wiped clean. We have stood before the Judge of Judges, and now we are awaiting his verdict. Come what will, the future will still be waiting for you come Thursday. Let your fast and afflictions tomorrow be what they were meant to be, things to keep you focused and clear. You’re not being punished with hunger, you are hungry so that whatever effort you might have put on food is now spent reflecting on how you can improve.

Remember too that you are often your biggest victim, so make sure to keep yourself in the list of people to ask for forgiveness from. There’s nothing to be ashamed for when you realize that maybe you’ve been too hard on yourself, that you haven’t been honest with yourself, or that you haven’t loved yourself as nearly as much as you deserve. So much of the conflict isn’t the world today boils down to a lack of love for one another, and it’s impossible to love someone else truly if you can’t learn to love yourself.

Wishing everyone a easy and meaningful fast, see you on the other side, and let’s make this the year that love triumphs over hate.

Categories Torah

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