Elul Reflections 25 – September 16

Rabbi Alan Litwak

Tonight, we will recite Selichot, the series of penitential prayers.  The Selichot service is traditionally held late in the evening, when our resistance to change is low and our sense of vulnerability is high.  It is done on the Saturday night immediately prior to Rosh Hashanah (unless that Saturday is less than three days prior).  Selichot serves as the final push as we approach the Yamim Nora’im – the Days of Awe.  If we have not started thinking about the work that we have to do during these days, now is the time.  A thought as we enter Selichot . . .

THE OTHER?

So often, when speaking about forgiveness, the focus is on the person who has offended you.
It is as if to forgive is to somehow accept his/her behavior, to move on, and forget
What if the offender does not change?
What if the offender has died and reconciliation is not possible?
What if the other is no longer a part of your life, yet what remains from your encounter with that person still lingers on your soul?
If our focus is on the other, then our chance to forgive is potentially compromised
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
Tonight, try not to focus on “the other.”
Rather, focus on yourself.
Forgiveness does not spontaneously bubble to the top, covering up or erasing all wounds
It involves intention, purpose, vision, and work.
It has to be discovered; an expectation of another side to the pain and sense of personal diminishment.

 

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