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Before Yom Kippur, the Joy of Forgiving

During the Ten Days of Repentance that fall between Rosh Hashana and the day of Yom Kippur, we are asked to look deep within our hearts to forgive and make amends with those who may have contributed to our pain and caused us suffering.

During the Ten Days of Repentance that fall between Rosh Hashana and the awesome day of Yom Kippur, a day known for atonement and forgiveness, it is appropriate to take an introspective journey.

For details of events and services fduring this time at Temple Judea in Tarzana and Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, click here for Temple Judea and here for VBS.

More specifically it is a propitious time to scrutinize our failings over the past 12 months and take responsibility for all of our conduct in thought, speech and action. Are there people for whom we have carried negative thoughts in this past year? Did we participate in gossip or cause damage to another person’s reputation? Have we behaved in some way that caused harm to another? These are the types of questions we are meant to ask ourselves.

Additionally, we are asked to look deep within our hearts to forgive and make amends with those who may have contributed to our pain and caused us suffering. 

Would you like to begin this journey together right now? Begin by pausing for a moment and join me in the following five-step meditation. 

Step 1. Think about the people who have brought you pain, those whom you have a difficult time forgiving. Create a list in your mind of the people in your life who have taken actions that have caused you unhappiness. 

Has the speech of others, through rumors or gossip brought you pain since last year at this time? Are there people who carry negative thoughts about you who are unwilling to enter into a peaceful dialogue? Are there people who may have taken advantage of you in business? Do you have your list ready? Now, visualize each person and the pain they have brought upon you, one by one, and say out loud "I forgive you (insert name)." Can you do that? 

Step 2. Pray that no one suffers as a result of the distress they have caused to you. Pray that their life be filled with joy and light! (Even if this seems hard to do.) 

Step 3. Now take ownership of your own errors. Make reparation for the errors you are aware of and be open to thoughts and feelings of others. If you discover that you have harmed someone in thought, speech or action this is the opportune time to begin the journey of correction and ask for forgiveness. Sometimes it is necessary to ask a person for their forgiveness in person.  
Can you do that?

Step 4. Fervently beseech our Maker and call out the words of the famous song of peace:"Oseh Shalom Bimromav, Hu Yashe Shalom, Aleinu Vaal Kol Yisroel, Veimru Amen,” which translates to, "May He who brings peace in the heavenly abode, make peace amongst us, and all of Israel and let us say, Amen."

May we and all seekers of forgiveness be forgiven for of our errors including the errors between us and our Maker. Granted, there are times that people don't merit our forgiveness, and there are times where we have not yet earned such forgiveness for ourselves, but when we take this true journey of introspection, we realize, that in most cases, there really is room for forgiveness.

It is important to recognize that we are the ones who ultimately benefit when we truly forgive. If you are among those who believe, as the Baal Shemtov does, that there are no mistakes perhaps that person who you are reluctant to forgive was actually playing a role in order to teach you an important lesson, which will make you grow and make you stronger. Think about it. 

Step 5. Fill your heart with the joy of knowing that by taking the steps of this meditation you have added to the much-needed light in this world!

Do you have a story of forgiveness that you would like to share? Please email me at rabbi@jewishmalibu.com.

Shabbat Shalom!

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