This is a time of year many Jews prepare for the "high holidays" and many non-Jews even prepare for perhaps an extra day off as many schools now close on these holidays. Do most Jews know what the holiday celebrates besides the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement?
While in Shul this week, my Rabbi, Yerachmiel Shapiro, helped bring a new understanding to me about the holidays.
He spoke of the "preparations" leading up to the holiday but he was not talking about cleaning or shopping. He asked us "why do we do Mitzvot?" (generally considered to be good deeds). Most people said "because it makes you feel good" and that is certainty true.
But that was not really the right answer. In part because some of the 613 Mitzvot do not actually make you feel good at all.
The real answer is that Jews strive to do as many of the 613 Mizvot as possible because "G_d told us to."
If someone so profoundly saved your life, changed your life and showed you how to live your life with love, peace and goodness in your heart, you would probably agree to honor their requests that you do a few things they might request of you.
At this time of year, Jews seek not only forgiveness for their transgressions, but seek to find ways to forgive those who have hurt them.
Forgiveness starts by forgiving yourself and then forgiving others. It is a sincere hope and prayer to live one’s life in peace and contribute to that peace in some way - big and small.
I know I have been Blessed in many ways. I have a loving and carrying family that I am very proud of and grateful to the Almighty for so much.
I also know that while I have lived my life to do my best...to be humble and appreciative...and to give back what I could, when I could (even when I thought I couldn't) ...that was not always enough.
So in the spirit of Yom Kippor and Rosh Hashanna, I have been thinking and preparing to find ways to make the year ahead better than this year - and pray to make me better in the year ahead than this year.
In that spirit I want to reach out to anyone who feels I was less than I should have been. To anyone who felt I hurt them in some way or in any way. And I ask them for their forgiveness.
I know that I have never intentionally set out to hurt or take advantage of another. It simply is not how I live my life.
As important as asking for forgiveness during this time of sincere prayer by Jews around the world, it is even more important and one of the 613 Mitzvot to forgive others who have wronged us.
You see, I do and I have been trying to forgive those who have so negatively impacted my life, but I have failed to fully understand this concept until I heard my Rabbi speak to it so profoundly that I wanted to share this with everyone.
Jews and non-Jews can take advantage of this power of forgiveness...take advantage of the power of prayer by just thinking about it in a sincere way.
As Jews from around the world gather to pray, to celebrate and to ask for and to give forgiveness, to Fast and to have dinner with family and friends - each one of us has the opportunity to be part of the collective prayer that millions of Jews will make seeking peace and prosperity for all.
Share this prayer for peace and forgiveness with people in your life and help make the world a better place. Imagine Peace...Imagine Peace through prayer.
Share this post and send in your thoughts on this truly special opportunity we all have.
I wish for you and your family a happy, healthy, ‘sweet’ and prosperous year ahead.