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The Hebrew month of Elul has begun...

09/01/2022 11:21:52 AM


Rabbi Scott Colbert, D.Min.

The Hebrew month of Elul has begun. We are only a few short weeks to Rosh Hashanah when we will celebrate the New Year. With the blast of the Shofar, we will open a new chapter in our lives. With the blast of the Shofar, we will begin the task of looking into our lives and seeing where we have succeeded and where we have fallen short.

On Yom Kippur we will recite the words, Al Chet Shechatanu…The Hebrew term chet usually translated as “sin” is better explained as missing the mark. We each set goals and expectations for ourselves and when we do not meet these expectations, we fall short of the mark. In common parlance, we sin.

The Rabbis tell us that even though we recite our confession in community, even though it is written in the plural form, as our tongues and lips are saying “for the sin which we have committed,” we should be focusing on the sin that we have individually committed. Our brains should be focusing on the singular while our lips are speaking the plural.

We believe that God gives us a chance to acknowledge our mistakes and where, if we are honest about the wrong we have done, if we stand before God with a broken heart, if we are willing to have the guts to say, “Aval asheimim anachnu” We really did get it wrong. If we are able to say, “Chatati”, “I sinned”, then God gives us a second chance.

More importantly, once we recognize that we have missed the mark and have committed to changing our behaviors and actions, we need to forgive ourselves as God forgives all who make a sincere effort in changing.

We learn in the Yom Kippur Neilah liturgy that God is indeed a forgiving and loving God. We need only to be sincere in our teshuvah (repentance) and God will forgive. The question becomes can we forgive ourselves?

Though comedians have joked forever about Jewish guilt, the truth is that guilt is part of the Jewish psyche; but carrying around guilt can be debilitating. Likewise, carrying around anger can destroy the person that is holding on to these emotions. Remembering that none of us is perfect and that with a sincere effort, we can ask for and receive forgiveness.

My prayer for each person in our congregation is that with the concluding Shofar blast on Yom Kippur you will have sought forgiveness from those you have harmed, forgiven those who wronged you; and most importantly, forgiven yourself. I pray that we have the knowledge that God gives us the strength to heal what we have harmed, to mend what we have broken, and to become the person God wants us to be.

L’shanah Tovah Tikateyvu v’Teychateymu, May you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.

Rabbi Scott Colbert, D.Min.

Mon, June 24 2024 18 Sivan 5784