Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Open Season for Confession

Just as Catholics go to confession to deal with their sins, Jews save them up for a whole year. On Yom Kippur we are supposed to ask forgiveness directly of all those people we have wronged.

Today I find myself looking over the past year and saying, “I did that to her?” and “I said that to him?” as I grimace and become suddenly humble.

Yom Kippur is that window of time when we come together and publicly confess our sinfulness. We cover all ground, praying this prayer to ask for God’s help:

For the sin which we have committed before You under duress or willingly.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by hard-heartedness.
For the sin which we have committed before You inadvertently.
And for the sin which we have committed before You with an utterance of the lips.
For the sin which we have committed before You with immorality.
And for the sin which we have committed before You openly or secretly.
For the sin which we have committed before You with knowledge and with deceit.
And for the sin which we have committed before You through speech.
For the sin which we have committed before You by deceiving a fellowman.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by improper thoughts.
For the sin which we have committed before You by a gathering of lewdness.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by verbal [insincere] confession.
For the sin which we have committed before You by disrespect for parents and teachers.
And for the sin which we have committed before You intentionally or unintentionally.
For the sin which we have committed before You by using coercion.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by desecrating the Divine Name.
For the sin which we have committed before You by impurity of speech.
And for the sin which we have committed before You by foolish talk.
For the sin which we have committed before You with the evil inclination.
And for the sin which we have committed before You knowingly or unknowingly.
For all these, God of pardon, pardon us, forgive us, atone for us.

The goal is to successfully navigate this confession of sins and thereby get written in the book of life which is sealed with the end of Yom Kippur at sundown tomorrow.

So if I have offended you in any way this past year, I ask your forgiveness. (Feel free to tell me if that is the case.) If not, be forewarned, it could happen in the year to come!

Yom Kippur, the most holiest day of the Jewish year, is symbolically a death and rebirth with a clean slate. My shoulders should hopefully feel a lot lighter by the end of tomorrow.

11 Comments:

Blogger Angela said...

Foolish talk, too? That sounds pretty stern. I would find it easy to forgive you for that. But no, you have not offended me, and even if you had, your apologies sounded so nice, I would. Can I not give you absolution as delegate from all the others you don`t reach? It is so easy for me, because we have not met, and therefore it is without any hidden thought (which would put a sin on me again). Wow, this sounds very difficult.
Anyway, I wish you a good, happy new year, with not too many sins. I guess a few just can`t be avoided. (I am predestined for foolish talk, as you can tell)

3:58 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Angela -- I feel so honored to see you on my Blog! I accept your generous absolution. Sins are just a part of life for most of us humans. It is nice to get out from under one year's sins and start collecting again. Hopefully you will come back to visit when I have written something a little less somber!

4:18 PM  
Blogger e said...

Wow; you have the prayer in English. Mine is in Hebrew!

One of the things I'm reading with regard to Yom Kippur involves not only taking responsibility for offenses committed against others, and those committed against G-d, but those we commit against ourselves as well. This last is a bit harder to wrap my head around. The author, a rabbi, also discusses the possibility of transformative change that can result from the process of forgiveness to others and forgiving ourselves, an interesting concept that fits in with your post here and the one yesterday.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

You haven't offended me and as always, I wish you peace. Happy new year.

7:21 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

E -- In our service, the rabbi reads each line in Hebrew and the congregation reads the English. And of course the choir sings Avinu Malkeinu.

I love the idea of considering offenses against ourselves. I'm going to reflect on that as I spend the day tomorrow in Yom Kippur services (listening to my stomach growl). Thank you for planting that seed!

Kristin -- Thanks so much. I'm hopeful it will be a year of peace and renewal for us all as we welcome a new President and start fixing the mess our country and world are in right now.

11:07 PM  
Blogger e said...

Barbara,

You might like the book that idea came from. It is called "The Tapestry of Jewish Time," by Nina Beth Cardin.

I hope your fast goes well. I will be fasting too and getting up to be an an early service.

L' shana tova

11:15 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

Barbara, just another thought. I read your comment at Reya`s blog which she could not understand. Don`t want to answer there, (too long already) but feel the urge to tell you that you are perfectly right. I was in the US in 1964/65 and marvelled at the luxury (coming from bombed-out Germany), and yes, those gas prices!! I liked my school mates very much but sometimes I thought, You have no idea what life is like in other parts of the world! Not that I blamed them. Only I once read somewhere that American people have a hard time realizing that there ACTUALLY IS a world outside the United States. True, hey? And this goes for history, too. You probably HAVE to live up to a certain age to simply understand more.
Sorry, this doesn`t really belong here, but I wanted to tell you my thoughts.

6:43 AM  
Blogger Adrianne said...

When I read that prayer I think that I start to understand where the proverbial "Jewish guilt" comes from! (: )

Seriously, I have a question: How does one go about atoning for "improper thoughts?" Let's say that one has repeatedly thought negative thoughts about another person and wished bad things for them, but has never actually taken any action to harm that person. Would one apologize directly to the person who is the object of the improper thoughts, or would one apologize directly to God, or both?

9:01 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

Oy vey.

5769 should be mighty fine. I won't miss 5768.

Happy new year.

4:23 PM  
Blogger bulletholes said...

i LIKE THIS (excuse me) list.
I think I'm going to confess something. Hmmm.
I've been under duress before. unless she was wearin' pants!

No. Thats not a very good confession. And I do like this list. Been guilty of all of them .
Hard-heartedness. I will think on this one for a while.
foolish talk...i'll spend some time there as well.

Hi barb....just for the record, you have never even come close to offending me...te opposite...you have been a joy divine to my heart for more than two years and I've never even met you.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

E -- Thanks for the book suggestion. I hope you had an easy fast. My husband will get back to your recording project tomorrow hopefully!

Angela -- Your thoughts are always welcome! Please stay in touch.

Adrianne -- I am certainly no expert in this. But I would imagine that if you haven't shared your "improper thoughts" with the object of those thoughts, you could just work it out with God. At least that would be my approach.

Reya -- Happy new year to you too!

Bulletholes -- I'll bet you would have livened up the "Ask the Rabbis" session today. You just crack me up!

11:48 PM  

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