holidays, Judaism, life, Thoughts about Life

Heartfelt gratitude & a clean slate: My Yom Kippur message

Tonight begins the holiday of Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days of the year Jewish calendar. While the day holds an immense amount of importance in both its significance – G-d forgives us for all of our sins from throughout the year, and its customs – fasting, non-leather shoes and extremely long yet certainly meaningful prayer services, I’ve been having a hard time really getting excited for holiday this time around.

Even with everyone that’s been going on with me over the past year, the thoughts, hardships and many mistakes and roadblocks I hit, for some reason I just wasn’t feeling like I’d been in previous years – happy to be forgiven for everything, yet understanding and willing to do the work necessary to feel worthy of being forgiven.

And then it hit me. Or should I say I hit it, with “it” being the mouse, and the cursor against the play button for an online movie. It was a quick 2-3 minute movie from Aish Hatorah, which featured a man taking us through how he had worked so hard to make something happen – his diet, and how one little lapse in precautioning led to a gross violation of his reformed habits (simply finding some cookies given by grandma and compromising that one won’t hurt quickly turning into a finished cookie jar…).

By then the man explained that while he did feel a great deal of remorse for his slip-up, another realisation popped into his head in the form of a message once given to him by his rabbi when he was younger and had remorsefully explained that he just wasn’t the best Jew since he woke up late that morning. The rabbi said the only thing worse than slipping up is getting down about it. If that happens, you’ll never learn from the mistake and you’ll be bound to repeat it.

Sure it was a message I’ve heard plenty of times, but this time it made a whole lot more sense to me. Why? I don’t know… Maybe G-d wanted me to go through this struggle of figuring out how to find meaning through the holiday without stumbling and groaning about the restrictions of the day or while immersed in the lull of figuring how to make up for lost time due to following holiday of Sukkot…

The video wrapped up illustrating that Yom Kippur is that time to learn from the mistakes, an opportunity to receive a clean slate from G-d for all the crap that happened last year, a moment to acknowledge and understand that yeah you messed up but I’m willing to put it all behind me and start again fresh – that it’s not the end of the world, but rather a new beginning.

And so for that – not only am I now motivated, but even more so I’m extremely thankful for this opportunity.

I’m thankful to G-d for his mercy and for granting me another opportunity to try again. And in that merit of G-d’s likeness, I too am thankful to those who’ve been there for me and have given me another opportunity to show them (or maybe just to remind me) of what greatness I am capable of achieving.

And just as G-d is willing to give me a clean slate, I too am willing to give the same to others. Even to those who weren’t there for me.

Besides, what good is it holding negative feelings against someone. It’s destructive!

So for that I say thank you and here’s to year of filling up our slates with only clean things – and that way G-d will have less to clean up the next time around.

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