Printed from

Forgiveness of Whom? - Yom Kippur

Monday, 9 September, 2013 - 8:36 pm

Rancho Canyon News, Friday 9/13/13 

This Friday evening through Saturday is the Jewish biblical holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Yom Kippur observances include eating a festive meal and candle-lighting before sundown on Friday, holiday prayers, fasting from food and drink from sundown of Friday till Saturday night after dark, avoiding weekday work and activity, and refraining from washing or applying lotions for pleasure, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations.

On this day we are compared to angels, and many people wear white as an expression of this. It is a day when we come clean, as the Torah says, “On this day He will atone for you to purify you from you all your misdeeds….”

There are times in our life when we have to stop what we’re doing and simply take the time to do a spring cleaning. This might mean sorting through and discarding bad habits that have cluttered our lives, or dusting off neglected talents and good character traits that have become temporarily clouded by a layer of dirt. Usually it also entails scrubbing away some of the spiritual grime that has accumulated by too much indulgence and unbefitting behavior.

Yom Kippur is such a time, the culmination of the ten days that began with Rosh Hashana. The difference is that while a regular spring cleaning is dependent on you alone, here there is divine help. The day itself has been designated to cleanse if one participates in the process.

Participating in the process means showing a desire to change. The word in Hebrew is Teshuvah, commonly translated as repentance. The more complete translation, however, conveys more depth: return. Return, not recreate. Because in asking forgiveness and looking for atonement from G-d we are ultimately looking to return to a relationship that has always existed. We are returning to the well of goodness that we already possess deep down.

The day cleanses, but there is an exception: a sin against another person. If you created a mess by intentionally insulting or hurting another person you can’t get around just by appeasing G-d. If the hurt is still there, you need to make legitimate effort to gain the forgiveness from the injured person. And if you are the injured party, Yom Kippur might just be the time to forgive.

“Forgive,” by the way, doesn’t necessarily equal “invite back into your life.” True, often the spat was over something petty and a little humility can bring back a great friendship. Sometimes, though, if that person hasn’t displayed the change necessary to warrant your trust it can be foolhardy to open up the door again. And if the person is a real danger to others, prosecution might still be necessary.

But forgiveness means to leave behind the hurt in your heart, to wish the person no evil, and to move on with your life. To a believer, whatever happened was somehow destined, but whatever will happen is your choice.

It might not be easy, but trust me: it will leave you feeling a lot cleaner, freer, and lighter

Comments on: Forgiveness of Whom? - Yom Kippur
There are no comments.