On this night of forgiveness, we think about the wrongs that have been done. There are people we have wronged. There are people who have wronged us.
Our tradition teaches us to be like God, to be “rachum v’chanun erech apayim v’rav chesed v’emet” – compassionate and gracious, forgiving and slow to anger and filled with loving kindness.
Sometimes it’s easy to forgive. Sometimes we can think about the things people have done, and understand their motivations, and find a place in our hearts to make it ok.
But there is one person whom we often find most difficult to forgive: ourself.
The High Holy Days are a time to try to understand ourselves. To delve deeply into our own souls, to think deeply about why we are what we are and why we do what we do. To admit our own frailty. To admit our own humanity. To try to find a place in our hearts to forgive ourselves for being human.
We are imperfect beings. We have done wrong, and we will do wrong. Admitting this is not the same as excusing ourselves. Rather, in admitting our imperfections, we take upon ourselves the responsibility to try to do better in the coming year. It is the task of the High Holy Days. And it is a task that begins this very evening.
Rabbi Leo Baeck said: “To seek God is to strive for the good. To find God is to do good.”
On this night of forgiveness, during these days of awe, and all throughout the coming year, may we strive to do good, and may we strive to bring the holy and the Godly into the world.