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G-d, Promises and The Days of Awe

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 21, 2007


If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that G-d is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.” (Alcoholics Anonymous p83-84)

“This Phase” of course refers to working the 12 Steps of Recovery 1-9.

Note that it says, “before we are half way through…” – what’s half-way through 9? 4.5 – so perhaps we are teetering on the edge of Step 5 – what an excellent opportunity to do our 5th Step right before Yom Kippur, so that we can turn to G-d having cleaned out all that old shame, fear, guilt about what we have lived through! Regardless what we decide to do, the result will be a renewal.

Another angle:

“When you make any vow to the L-rd your G-d, you must pay it without delay…If you refrain from making a vow, that is no sin for you; but you must be careful to perform any promise you have made with your lips.” (Deut. 23:22)

I seldom make promises to G-d, but I sure make them to myself all the time – and somehow I think Torah here is talking about both kinds of promises. Promising things and not keeping them, forgetting that I made that promise – somehow I and G-d always end up with the shorter end of the stick in the Promise department. They get shuffled out as “not important”. But Torah says that they are. One reason for this is that broken promises, or non-fullfilled promises erodes our trust and our sense of self-worth. Constantly making little promises to oneself and not following through is demoralizing. Torah abhors broken people, so Torah creates a mitzvah – “Follow through also on the vows you make to G-d (and yourself).”

Yom Kippur has a very specific formula to take care of the erosion of our souls tha comes from making all those little promises, commitments and resolutions to ourselves and G-d that we failed to honor: Kol Nidre.

The Ashkenazi version, which has “from this Day of Atonement until the next (whose happy coming we await)” rather than “from the last Day of Atonement until this one”, in my mind is rather useless in terms of having any healing properties, so I will quote the Sefardi version:

“All vows, obligations, oaths, and anathemas, whether called ‘konam,’ ‘konas,’ or by any other name, which we may have vowed, or sworn, or pledged, or whereby we may be bound, from the last Day of Atonement until this one, we do repent. May they be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, and void, and made of no effect; they shall not bind us nor have power over us. The vows shall not be reckoned vows; the obligations shall not be obligatory; nor the oaths be oaths.”

This is said 3 times – so it should give us plenty of time to let go of all those failed promises made to ourselves and G-d, during the past year, so we can step into His Presence and get straightened out, so our recovery can continue unhindered, that we may be all we can in the time until the next Yom Kippur.

May our sealing be for life, goodness and healing!

Amen

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One Response to “G-d, Promises and The Days of Awe”

  1. […] This ties in very nicely with what I quoted from Alcoholics Anonymous when I wrote about G-d, Promises and The Days of Awe: […]

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