Repentance, that magic word. And this world has so much to repent for.
The world at large will be on trial this coming Saturday, and the vast majority ignores this. If they only knew.
Life means to be responsible for one another. The mischiefs and crimes of some are responsibility of others. The goodness of some reflects on the life of others.
An element of true Repentance or Teshuva is in its perfection, according to the Rambam, is when a person is faced with the opportunity to commit a sin which he has previously transgressed, but due to his repentance, he does not succumb. The Talmud teaches that a person who repeatedly transgresses a certain sin views the sin as a permissible act.
The Rambam teaches us that the mindset which is required for Teshuva is one in which a person divorces himself from his actions of the past. A person must feel that his past actions do not reflect his true nature, and furthermore, that under the same exact circumstances he would not repeat them. Perhaps he may sin again in the future, but that is not because the behavior is ingrained in him from the past.
We cannot guarantee that we will never sin again. However, the knowledge that the sinful acts of the past are not part of our present will ensure that they are not motivating factors for committing the same sin in the future.
A person must feel that his past does not control him. The ability to come to this realization is not a difficult task. If a person is truly interested in changing his way of life, this mindset will be natural and accessible to him.
How to forgive?
Look in the mirror. Recognize that you are a difficult person to live with, that you have your own imperfections and limitations that others have to deal with all the time. Forgive the weaknesses of others the same way you overlook your own mistakes.
See the Big Picture. Think of Yom Kippur as a lookout on the top of a mountain that you have been climbing all year. See your days and their moments spread out before you. Be willing to look now at this big picture of your life. Your ultimate goals. Your beliefs. See each person in your life as part of that picture. What lesson have they taught you even if you had to learn it through pain? What message is God sending you by putting this person in your life?
Say Something. Asking forgiveness doesn’t require a long letter or a meticulously planned speech. Often we just need to say something. Anything.I’m sorry. Let’s start over. I want to talk. It’s that first step that begins to chip away at the buried resentment.
Break the Cycle. Sometimes we get into patterns with people that we love that aren’t working. Even if you feel that you are ‘right,’ break out of the cycle. Stop having the same argument over and over again. Have the courage to put blame aside and say: Let’s start over. “Insanity is not doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results; insanity is doing the same thing over and over again knowing full well what the results will be.” Anonymous
Forgive Life. Sometimes we resent others for hard circumstances in our own lives. It is easier to blame people than to face our own disappointments. We need to go one step further. To forgive God for all of our frustrations and challenges. To forgive Him for hiding His Face when we needed Him most. To forgive Him for the times when it seemed like He gave up on us altogether. To now turn around and say thank You. For life. For another chance. For the gift of forgiveness itself. Knock incessantly on the closing gate of Yom Kippur. He wants to forgive us and for us to forgive.
So much to learn and to forgive. And, yet, the most amazing is that there are for the future also other ways to repent.
We are told that there are, on a daily basis, courts that are working 24 hours. Those judges are G d’s angels, and do not have His Compassion, His Rachamim.
However, we can have access to G d IF we decide to repent on a daily basis. Our sages say, one hour a day for prayer and repentance is necessary. We need to review the actions and behaviour of each day and accept those transgressions, repent and promise that we will never do it again.
It seems that HaShem is there, ready to forgive us with the added bonus that by doing this, we have a credit in our favour in the afterlife, and that makes this effort so very worthwhile.
Chatima tova… May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.