Congratulations to

Laura Hausman

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Home From the Rabbi From the Rabbi - September 2017
From the Rabbi - September 2017 PDF Print E-mail

There is a children’s story I have told on several occasions on the High Holidays that proposes that the hardest word to say is “sorry.”  I love the story but in reality sorry can be a very easy word to say.  People say sorry all the time but it’s only hard if they really mean it.  What really makes sorry the hardest word is that saying it with meaning involves first saying what may be the hardest phrase – “I was wrong.”

Nobody likes to admit they were wrong.  This has always been true but in the modern era it is even more so because individual choice is such a significant part of the modern world. As our choices become more significant our emotional connection to our choices, big and small, becomes greater.  We think that in admitting we made mistakes,  that we were wrong, means we are admitting something is wrong with us. And no one wants to do that.  So rather than admitting when we are wrong we convince ourselves that we were not and we allow the many distractions of life to excuse us,  using them as ways to  avoid facing our mistakes and facing ourselves. 

And then the High Holidays come around and we are asked to make facing the choices we have made in the past year our highest priority.  All the distractions are taken away as we sit in services on Yom Kippur allowing us to focus intently on our sins and our mistakes.  We are faced with a litany of sins in the prayer service of which many probably sound all too familiar to us if we are being honest with ourselves. 

But in a sense facing our bad choices at the High Holidays makes it easier.  We are surrounded by our friends and family and community and we realize that, of course, all of us have made mistakes, all of us have sinned, all of us have made choices we wish we could take back. We realize that if all of us make such mistakes admitting them is not as much of a judgment as we may have feared. 

And in the context of the High Holidays - a time of rebirth and renewal - we are also told that facing our mistakes is an essential part of looking forward, of making better choices in the year to come and becoming better people in doing so. 
This High Holidays we should all take the opportunity to face our past choices, to admit our mistakes however hard it may be and in so doing move forward to a better future in the year to come.  

        Rabbi Ilan Emanuel



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