Here’s the nice stuff I said last week, rewritten a little!
Tomorrow, Yom Kippur, is about repentance and forgiveness. Jews don’t eat, drink, bathe, screw, or wear leather (for some reason). For a day, we ignore our bodily needs and reflect. On who we’ve been in the past year and who we plan to be. And beg God to let us live.
Yom Kippur, along with Rosh Hashana, sticks out to me because they’re the only Jewish holidays that are just about YOU. Sukkot is about God protecting the Jews in the desert. Chanukah and Purim are about staying alive. Pesach is the Exodus. Shavuot is God giving the Torah. But Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana are about YOU. What have you, personally, done in the past year? How will you repent for what you’ve done?
How will you forgive what’s been done to you?
Close your eyes for a moment (I’ll wait). When you do, don’t try to think. Don’t try to do anything. Just focus on what you see and hear.
I believe what you experienced is all we really are. A speck of consciousness in the dark. Everything else is external forces, stimuli. Right now, you senses are being bombarded. By colors, sights, sounds, images. The speck that is you has learned to make sense of it all. You’ve learned to talk, to communicate with other specks, to do enough to feed your body and keep the speck going. You stimulate the speck. It learns complex ideas, forms thoughts of its own. Is inspired or outraged by things it sees in the world.
Along the way, it forgets it’s a speck. More importantly, it forgets that everyone else is, too. Forgiveness is about remembering.
Remembering that every single person is the world is just one of those specks. And they, like you, are just trying to figure this whole thing out. Obviously, a lot of people are wrong. Especially if they hurt others. But they’re just specks, too. No matter who they are or what they’ve done, they’re doing what’s best based on what that speck has seen. And heard. And thought. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we have to be OK with that. But it asked us to see them for what they are: scared voices in the darkness.
Even if they’ve hurt you or done something grave or heinous, they’ve done it for one simple reason: They, like you, are a fragile, flawed human being, a singular speck trapped by the limits of its own perceptions.
Repentance follows. When you close your eyes, and see nothing but the void, what have you done? When you’ve felt most righteous, or most justified, were you really doing what’s right? Or was a confused speck lashing out at the world? Repentance means going beyond the obvious sins and mistake and really considering how you’ve treated the other specks of the world.
If you can do that tomorrow, whether you’re religious or even believe in any of this stuff, I think you’ll have a pretty good year.