I’m Sorry

The best part about Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of atonement, is that it assumes we all need to atone.  Religious views aside, this holiday doesn’t just ask us to ask forgiveness from a G-d, it commands us to ask forgiveness to our fellow humans.  I love this! Not because asking for forgiveness is easy or fun, but because it assumes we are flawed and it assumes we are forgivable.  For someone like me, who has spent many hours trying to “get life right,” maybe aiming for perfect experiences when I should have been aiming for meaningful ones, I find this holiday comforting.  It assumes that of course we have messed up, and of course we will want to check in with the people in our lives who we care about, and of course we will want them to know we are thinking about our actions.  This isn’t a holiday that assumes we are bad people and we should feel horrible, placing immobilizing amounts of guilt.  It’s the opposite.  It assumes we are JUST PEOPLE and that fact alone means we will miss the mark occasionally.  It also doesn’t give us an excuse to wallow in guilt.  Yom Kippur asks us to recognize what we have done wrong, and apologize to those we love.

I’m still learning, as I hope we all are, and one thing I am learning is that I am not all good or all bad, social events that I go to are not all good or all bad, people I meet, and people I love are not all good or all bad.  Sounds obvious…but I promise you this is not an obvious concept to me.  I like things neat and tidy, all or nothing, black and white.  I love you, I disgust you, I need you, I would never rely on you.  For me, Yom Kippur is a holiday about relationships.  It’s an opportunity to see the best and worst in others and ourselves and to recognize how we could do better next time.

I watch my kids interact with other kids.  Endless amounts of times I have stood at a playground or in a home and watched our kids and other kids love, play, and hurt and get hurt by other children, almost on an endless loop.  They laugh, hold hands, run, push, steel, cry, yank, apologize, hug, smack, cry, apologize, hold, hug, cry, laugh, squeeze, hurt, apologize, repeat.  And after this normal play, that to grownups looks like an emotional rollercoaster, when we tell them its time to go, they, hug their friends and ask if their friends can sleep over, if we can see them later, tomorrow, they cry they don’t want to leave, ect… they feel close and secure in their relationships.

Screwing up is part of the deal. Didn’t a wise Rabbi say that?:)  Being immobilized with guilt or denying your own human flaws is not part of the deal.  If you think you are a total screw up, well you are wrong.  You can totally screw up, but you can’t be a total screw up, because you have the opportunity to own your actions.  Think you are totally perfect? Also wrong, and we know this because we are human, we are designed to mess up, to grow, to apologize, and to try again.

Some Jews fast on this holiday, others just reflect.  There is so much pain and injustice in the world.  Let us not be immobilized by imperfections, but mobilized by a desire to do better.


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