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Archive for the ‘Yom Kippur’ Category

G-d, Forgiveness and The Days of Awe

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 19, 2007


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Forgiveness
By Jay Litvin
————-

“These were the days before Yom Kippur. I was lonely and couldn’t figure out why. The loneliness had been there for months.

Things were good with my wife and kids. I’d been on the phone with my sisters and in close contact with my friends.

So, what was the source of this loneliness?

I was missing G-d.

I was and had been feeling distant from Him. A strange feeling for me. Even in my late teens I had been able to connect with Him when I needed to. He always answers my calls. Sometimes I don’t even need to call. I just feel his companionship as I journey through life.

But these last months had been lonely. I had been separate from Him, unable even to call out. And I didn’t know why.

Just before Yom Kippur, I received an e-mail from a friend. He’s not a religious Jew, though we discourse often about G-d and Torah. He’s a writer and has a way with words. We also share the same disease, and talk much about our symptoms, history, fears, treatments and aches. There’s a special something that happens with people who share the same disease. We never have to worry about boring each other. All our concerns and obsessions about the daily changes in our health or symptoms, our latest internet discoveries about new cures and clinical trials may bore others, but are continuously fascinating to us.

At the end of this email my friend wrote: “Jay, this Yom Kippur, I don’t think you should go to shul and ask G-d for forgiveness. This Yom Kippur you should stay home and G-d should come crawling on His knees and beg you to forgive Him for what He’s done to you.”

When I read these lines I laughed. My friend is a sacrilegious provocateur. He believed what he said, but he mainly wrote those words to shock me. I filed his words, but paid them little attention.

As Yom Kippur drew close, I continued to wonder what was taking place between G-d and me. I worried that this day of prayer and fasting would be void of the usual connection that Yom

And then in a flash I realized that I was angry at G-d. And had been for some time. I was angry about my disease and I was angry that I was not yet healed. I was angry about my pain. And I was angry at the disruption to my life, the fear, the worry and anxiety that my disease was causing my family and those who loved and cared about me. I was angry about the whole thing, and He, being the boss of everything that happens in the world, was responsible and to blame.

And so, I entered Yom Kippur angry at G-d.

I put on my kittel and my tallit and I went to shul.”(excerpt from very long article)

I can’t help but feel that this is very apt for me, and I am sure for many in Recovery – one reason we have trouble working the Steps that includes G-d. We are angry with G-d, we feel that G-d has deserted us, cheated us, let us face all kinds of horrible things alone, and you know what?

He has. We have every right to be angry at Him.

But that is not the end of the story. Eventually we realize that what we have been through, as horrible as it was (and still is for many) it has also made us the persons we are today. We have picked some very useful skills, that perhaps originally were meant to protect us as children. Most of what we learned as children is not useful to us as adults.

Hyper vigilance f.i is not useful – but if we look at hyper vigilance we see that trimmed down to functional levels through the Program, it is nothing but a very keen sense of observation, an eye for detail and context – that is useful.

My wife said that being bullied in school has taught her compassion.

My need for control has resulted in a very neat skill – I can read virtually any document up-side down. Being dyscalculic has given me a very good memory for numbers. The fact that my caregivers never bothered to teach me things means that I have a knack for learning by watching others do, this helps me when I need to learn complicated sequences, something I have trouble with because of my dyscalculia.

So while G-d let us go through all the crap, and it wasn’t fair, and we have every right to be angry with Him, at one point or other we have to let G-d off the hook for His shortcomings, because it has made us who we are – and who we are is good, perfectly imperfect and as it should be. As much as we need G-d to reason with us, as much do we need to reason with G-d, so that scarlet and crimson can become snow white and as wool (Yeshayahu 1:18)

The Days of Awe and Yom Kippur is as good a time as any to start.
Amen

copyright Henric C. Jensen

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Posted in angry at G-d, Forgiveness, G-d, missing G-d, The Days of Awe, Yom Kippur | 1 Comment »

The Lost and Found of Torah

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 23, 2007


Parashat Ki Teitzei – Torah Portion: Deuteronomy 21:10 – 25:19 Haftarah: Isaiah 54:1 – 54:10

Focal Point: Devarim 22:1-3

1 If you see your fellow’s ox or sheep gone astray, do not ignore it; you must take it back to your fellow. 2 If your fellow does not live near you or you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home and it shall remain with you until your fellow claims it; then you shall give it back to him. 3 You shall do the same with his ass; you shall do the same with his garment; and so too shall you do with anything that your fellow loses and you find: you must not remain indifferent.

My friend Yael commented on another Blog Entry:

 

“But, the ones who lose what was always a part of their identity sometimes have a pretty rough time moving on with life. I wouldn’t be bragging about doing that to anyone.[…]In my interactions with people I always try to encourage Christians to live by the teachings of Jesus the best they can; if they are Jewish to live by the teachings of Torah as best they can; whatever religion they are, use it to be a truly good person.”

If we connect those two statements it becomes clear that Faith is something you can lose. What to do if you find a fellow’s lost Faith by the way-side? You keep it for him until he can come and claim it, and then you give it back to him!

Ok, I admit, I am stretching the text here, but I still think the thought has merits 🙂 After all, we can ask forgiveness on account of those who cannot, will not or do not know that forgiveness is possible – we do it every year on Yom Kippur, so why not hold on to my fellow human’s lost Faith? After all it’s something he lost, he probably misses it, and even if he doesn’t miss it, doesn’t know he needs it or doesn’t want it, what’s the harm? Will it cost me anything to hold his lost faith in trust until he can claim it for himself? No. On the contrary, it will help me grow a person?

So how do I return someone’s lost Faith to them? One thing’s for certain, unless they are actively looking for it, there’s no way it will be fruitful to try and dump it on them like a sack of potatoes, that’s just mean, pushy and arrogant.

Faith’s little Sister is Hope. Hope incites Faith.

What is hope? “…the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible…”

Most of the time hope is kindled by the simple act of being present for someone who is in any kind of need. By simply being human, compassionate, honest and attentive towards another I can show that the out-look of life is not at all that bleak.

I cannot be sure that this will succeed, but for the sake of the commandment to return anything lost back to the one who lost it, I have to try. Like I stand with The People on Yom Kippur and ask forgiveness on account of those who cannot do it for themselves, so I can hold Faith in trust for those who cannot do it for themselves. We have a Tradition that teaches us that Mitzvot can be performed in honor of others. So why not hold Faith, perform Mitzvot for the sake of those who cannot do it for themselves, whatever the reason.

So when you get up in the morning, instead of berating those you think are lax in their Observance, put on your Tallit and Tefillin for the sake of those who cannot, put an extra coin in your Tzedakah box, do an extra run through the Weekly Parasha when you study and Hold Faith for them who have lost it, until they can claim it for themselves.

Shabbat Shalom!

Posted in Deuteronomy 21:10 - 25:19, Devarim 22:1-3, Faith, Hope, Isaiah 54:1 - 54:10, lost faith, Mitzvot, Parashat Ki Teitzei, Torah, Yom Kippur | 8 Comments »

To Stand Before G-d – Parasha Nitzavim

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 11, 2006


Devarim 29:9 – 30:20

 

 

“The Torah reading of Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29-30) is always read on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah, as we prepare to stand before G-d to be judged for our deeds of the bygone year. These closing days of the year are a time for self-examination, for a thorough assessment of our mission in life and the steps we have taken—and need yet to take—toward its realization.

Nitzavim thus opens with Moses’ statement to the people of Israel: “You stand today, all of you, before G-d your G-d: your heads, your tribal leaders, your elders, your officers, and all men of Israel; your children, your wives, and the stranger in your camp; from the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water.”” (Wisdom Reb)

This Parasha asks us to do the almost impossible – it asks us to be personally responsible as individuals on a collective level. This is the “We” of all the prayers in the Siddur – the moment when we are both completely transparent to G-d as individuals and as a People. G-d is counting His Children – this is a census. Do we count ourselves among “the hewers of wood and the drawers of water”, and consent to be counted or do we prefer that G-d didn’t SEE us?

Judgement. To most of us it sounds harsh, cold and final. Everything we are or have done, are not and have not done is being scrutinized – or so we think about “Judgement” – but is that truly the point of Rosh ha-Shana? Is that why G-d is holding a census?

Perhaps what G-d wants more than anything is to SEE us there, before Him, like any Father would want to SEE his family, his children? Perhaps that is the purpose of this Holy Day – a Feast Day when G-d is celebrating with His Children up close and personal. A Feast Day when we look forward to the new coming year with hope that it will bring us joy, growth, life and more opportunity to make Dad proud. G-d wants us to Meet Him face to face, trusting that He, like the King in the Midrash will meet us on the Road – knowing that what we lack He will add, so that we meet the Family Standard.

“All Present and Accounted for!”

Rosh HaShana kicks off those days leading up to Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement – The Day of Awe – when we clean house, make sure that those things we failed at during the past year gets a re-view and a re-newed committment – and not just for those who are actually there, but also for those who are absent, either in mind or body. On Rosh HaShana we start over, with a full deck – and those who are not there in some way, will be counted as if they were – G-d takes one look at “us” and says: “All Present and Acounted for” – in many ways Rosh HaShana is a repeat of The Revelation on har Sinai – we were all there – now we are being counted again, and deemed accountable.

I like being seen as accountable, I like being responsible, being part of that “We”, that regardless of personal culpability is being counted as responsible for those who are not counting themselves as we move towards Yom Kippur.

Do you count yourself?

May we all have a good and sweet year ahead of us, come Rosh HaShana. May we all be Present and Accounted for!

Shabbat Shalom!

Posted in Day of Atonement, Deuteronomy 29-30, Midrash, Parasha Nitzavim, Rosh HaShana, Torah, Weekly Parasha, Yom Kippur | Leave a Comment »

 
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