Seeking Forgiveness

rabbi_naomi's picture

With the coming of autumn, the Jewish High Holy Days are a time of deep reflection and renewal. All around the world we wish each other "L'Shanah Tova," meaning , "A good new year!" It's human nature to hope that the future will be better than the past, that moving through time leads us to growth and positive transformation, through the nurturing powers of our life-loving planet and through acts of grace flowing from the Source of it all. But positive change for the future requires human effort as well.

In the month before Rosh HaShanah, our New Year, we're taught to review the year that's ending, consider how we used the time, scrutinize our actions and habits. Have we avoided doing harm and seized opportunities to do good? Have we lived up to our own moral standards? We've all made some mistakes; have we rectified them? Have we been good friends, family members and citizens? Where we find ourselves lacking, we make a commitment to improve. Where there have been wrongs between ourselves and other people, we're required to offer heartfelt apologies and make amends. And if someone has hurt you and then does their best to make it up, you're required to be forgiving, not to hold a grudge.

Similarly, we reflect on how we've done as a community, a human family. Have we supported one another in times of distress? Have we built a loving, just society? Have we defended the vulnerable of both our own species and other marvelous creatures that share our Earth? Have we cherished our beautiful planet and conserved precious resources? Have we promoted peace and understanding?

These are weighty concerns and challenges. We have not completely failed, nor have we succeeded as well as we need for the healthy functioning of our social and ecological systems on which our own survival and happiness depends.

The holy night of S'lichot (Forgiveness) takes place this evening. Across the country and around the globe, prayers will be recited expressing deep remorse for our mistakes and pleading for forgiveness to flow from Our Source, to soothe broken hearts and help our troubled world. Right after sundown this evening, you might want to take some time to ponder these ideas and see where spirit leads you. Jewish tradition teaches that if we're able to forgive one another, if we can acknowledge where we've missed the mark and commit ourselves to doing better, the future can be full of possibilities, of blessings and hope.