For the Jewish people, this week marks the beginning of the year 5782. It’s been quite a year for everyone, not just for the Jews. Now some may say I’m taking the easy out by re-publishing an old post from Rosh Hashanah 5780, but let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to reflect back on the “before times,” a little? So, without further ado, I present, “Happy New Year — Asking for Forgiveness.” Here’s wishing everyone a happier, healthier, sweeter year.
As I sit writing this month’s post, I am in a contemplative mood. The Jewish High Holidays are around the corner, in fact as of the publication date, it is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. And the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, are also called “The Days of Awe.” These are the holiest days for us and an opportunity to reflect on the past year, to take stock of ourselves and our lives and to think about how we can grow into better versions of ourselves in the coming year.
One of the most important things we do at this time is to ask forgiveness of those we’ve wronged or hurt during the year. It is customary to do this in person but in these days of electronic communication, many accomplish this task via social media. Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe it is always appropriate to ask forgiveness in whatever fashion is available. But much like sending an email thank you note, to me it falls in the “better than nothing,” category. In other words, not as personal and seems like the easy way out. But…better than nothing. There is also the mandate that if you are the person who is being asked for forgiveness, that you must try to accept. If, after three attempts you cannot accept, the person doing the asking is “off the hook,” so to speak.
Why all this focus on forgiveness being asked for and granted? I don’t have a rabbinic answer, but I do have my answer. To be honest, I have a very difficult time admitting when I’m wrong. I know I inherited this from my dad and try as I might, it’s probably the thing I struggle with the hardest in relationships (ask my husband for more on that). But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that admitting you’ve been wrong and asking for forgiveness is one of the strongest things a person can do. Taking responsibility for our actions, I believe, is fundamental to fostering and maintaining healthy relationships. Not only that, but granting forgiveness when asked is also fundamental. These behaviors serve to level the playing field between people. Recognizing our basic, common humanity, moving beyond our mistakes and even loving each other in spite of it all is perhaps the trickiest, and yet, most rewarding thing in a relationship.
This coming year, I hope to become better at admitting when I’m wrong, asking for forgiveness and granting forgiveness to others. And while I can’t actually ask each of you in person, I’ll take advantage of this forum to ask for forgiveness if I’ve hurt or wronged you in any way. To those I can ask in person, stay tuned. And to everyone, here’s wishing a happy, healthy and sweet New Year, whatever your faith, tradition, practice or belief. Because who couldn’t use a little more happy, healthy and sweet?
About Barbara Dab
Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner. Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world. The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at www.jewishobservernashville.org . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58
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