I’m Sorry

by Arliene Botnick, August 25, 2021

I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to say that. I didn’t mean to do that. I didn’t mean to ignore that. I didn’t mean to think that. This is our time of year to think about all the things that we have to make better. It is our time to do “cheshbon hanefesh”, a tabulation of our soul. And it is our opportunity to examine our “chet” – our missing the mark. And it is our amazing opportunity to do Teshuvah, repentance, and improvement. But teshuvah is not easy to do. It is not easy to recognize the things we have done wrong, to take ownership of the things that we have messed up or ignored, and to truly and deeply say we’re going to do better.

Sometimes we just don’t realize how our actions and words have hurt other people, have hurt our society. There are so many examples that I can cite. How many of us have said recycling takes a lot of time and effort? It’s so much easier just to throw out everything in the garbage, not realizing how much these landfills filled with excessive garbage are going to impact our earth or water or air. How many times have we walked right by someone in need on the street, justifying our indifference and scorn by thinking: “If I give him or her or them any money, it’s just wasted. They’ll just use it on alcohol or drugs.”? We stand in judgement of them, ignoring their need, not just for money but for someone to say: “I care about you; let me help you just a little bit.” How many times have we lost our temper, not realizing how our words may have deeply impacted and wounded those at whom we are yelling? Saying sorry isn’t all that easy.

As we begin this time of year, the Yamim Noraim, our high holidays, it truly is a time of rebirth, a time to celebrate the birthday of the world and more than that, a chance for us to be born again, into a better version of ourselves. It is a time for us to try to start again, as best we can, by clearing the slate, by amending as many wrongs as we can and by truly saying that we will do better. And the beauty of this time of year is that it comes around every year. We never get it all completely right. We never can make everything better, but we never should stop trying. And perhaps the one extremely important thing we should think about during this second year of Covid high holidays is how to keep all of us healthy. It is so easy to say: “I don’t trust the Covid shot; I don’t think it works; it’s some mind-boggling conspiracy; I’m going to wait and see if I really need to get the shot.” This is the time of the year when we have to realize that our health impacts the health of everybody around us. If we don’t do everything in our power to keep ourselves free from the virus, we are allowing the virus to find a home and to mutate and to create continuous havoc in our society. Maybe this is the day to say: “I’m sorry that I haven’t gotten my inoculations yet.”

We are commanded to not stand idly by when a human life is in danger (Lev. 19:16); not to bear a grudge (Lev 19:18); not to wrong anyone in speech (Lev 25:17); to leave the unreaped corner of the field for the poor (Lev. 19:19). Let’s add to that by including that we will protect ourselves and those around us by getting double-vaxxed. We must keep our community safe. Let’s take this time of Cheshbon Hanefesh to look deep into our souls and appreciate that God gave us amazing minds that, in such a short time, were able to get vaccines against this devastating pandemic. Saying sorry is only a part of this holiday. Doing better is what it is all about. It can be a sweet and fruitful new year; it’s all in our hands.

Shannah Tovah Umetukah to all

Filed under: Educator's Message

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