Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Starting Over...

Sometimes, you can't do the "right" thing simply because there isn't one.

Sometimes, you do the best you can and it isn't good enough.

Sometimes, you see things one way and take action, knowing that in doing it, you are going to hurt someone else.

That's what being an adult is, a parent, a spouse.

I've often heard the concept "turn the other cheek" - to which I've heard the humorous response that when Jews try to turn the other cheek, we just get slapped on the other side of our faces. Turning the other cheek is not a Jewish concept and expecting someone to be in a permanent state of forgiving isn't possible - except when you are actually hurting yourself more by not forgiving than the person asking to be forgiven.

It isn't that Jews don't forgive - we do...but we do it differently. It isn't an automatic thing - it has to be earned. It has to be requested. The wrong has to be made right as much as is humanly possible.

If someone steals a painting from you - until they make amends and give it back, you don't have to forgive them. All the times they say "I'm sorry" is proven false simply because they continue to hold the painting.

On the other hand, if they give it back, perhaps going around and telling people that it was always yours and they had no right to it and come and tell you that they were really wrong and they apologize - you are supposed to find it in your heart and forgive them. They have the obligation to ask three times - in all sincerity and after having tried to make amends...fixing misconceptions their actions caused, etc. After three times, the sin is on you, not them. If you won't forgive them, God will.

So in the period before Rosh Hashana and up to Yom Kippur, Jews go around thinking what they did wrong, how they can fix it. They ask people to forgive them - and they mean it because we are all facing this huge mountain we have to climb - it's called Yom Kippur - Judgment Day and on that day, as Jews the world over gather in synagogues and fast, somewhere late in the day, it isn't about the individual anymore - it's about the nation.

We climb that mountain together - each helping the other get to the top. We start confessing sins we never did - because one of us did. All our good deeds, all the things we did to help others, seems to be put in a massive pot and handed to God. I may have done this badly, but look what that person did - maybe I'm not good enough to get that blessing, but she's so good, maybe a little extra could come my way and together we can both scale the mountain.

And God accepts it - He really does. Every. Single. Year.

So the pressure is on now - and somewhere in the middle of cooking a billion and one things for a ton of meals and a ton of guests, I'm thinking about the past year - so much I could have done better. So many blessings I was given.

Sometimes, in the thick of prayer, I just surrender. Please God, read my heart - look past my thoughts and the deeds I didn't do enough of - you've blessed me so many times in so many ways - for whatever I did, or someone did to get me what I have, please let it continue.

No - you can't force someone not to be mad at you. You can't make someone love you. You can't undo things in life - not really. And so as the holiday comes, I surrender to what I am, what I've done and what I haven't and ask God to fill in the rest.

May God bless you (and me) and our families with a sweet year filled with health and peace - if not with our enemies, at least with our neighbors, friends and family.

Shana tova - have a good year.

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