As I write this, Jews all over the world are approaching the end of the Ten Days of Repentance, the period of time between Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement). While most people associate New Year with parties and making resolutions (the majority of which are seldom kept), Jewish New Year is a bit more serious. Yes, we have a festive meal, along with apples and honey, representing the wish for a sweet new year; but then, we enter a time of reflection, when we look back on what we accomplished, but also look back at where we missed the mark, where we failed to do the right thing, where we did not live up to the ideals we claim to have.
According to tradition, during the Ten Days of Repentance, we should sincerely apologize to those we have wronged. Whether the wrong was intentional or accidental, it's still an opportunity for us to reestablish communication with those who did not see us at our best. We've all treated others unfairly or taken out our mood on someone who didn't deserve it. But even when, deep down, we know we were in the wrong, we often don't make amends. Instead, we blame the other person. Or we stop talking to them (or avoid them)-- anything rather than admitting that maybe we could have handled things better. And that's how relationships that could still be repaired never get fixed.
If I'm being honest about myself, a lot of folks did not see me at my best this past year. Maybe it's the remnants of the pandemic (a lot of us lived on Zoom for a year and a half, and we lost many of our social skills); or maybe it's stress from various things in my life, like my husband's illness (he's better now, but things were kind of scary for a while). But the fact remains: I don't believe I was my usual friendly self much of the time. Instead, I often felt tense, or awkward, or impatient. And I know for a fact that sometimes I took it out on people I care about.
I regret it. I wish I had handled this past year much better than I did. And all I can do is say I'm sorry and promise to try to do better in the year ahead. But sometimes, saying that doesn't seem nearly enough. I guess in many ways, I'm my own harshest critic and I have a difficult time feeling like I deserve another chance. But during the Ten Days of Repentance, being self-critical isn't the goal. This period of time is an opportunity to ask forgiveness from others (as well as from God)...and to be willing to make a new start. Too many of us are so focused on our mistakes that we miss the chance to start again.
And so, I hope those of you I've wronged will accept my apology. In a world where there is often far too much anger and too many people holding grudges, we can all use an opportunity to forgive-- and to be forgiven. And that is my wish for you who are reading my blog, whether you are Jewish or not: I hope that the New Year will bring more kindness, more patience, and above all, more forgiveness-- for me, for you, and for all of us.