For Jews around the world, this is the season of reflection and forgiveness. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a time to look at the ways in which we have transgressed and to apologize, personally, to anyone we may have offended or hurt. In so doing we are once again sealed in the Book of Life. Whether or not we are Jewish, I believe we could all benefit if we took a page from this book.
Lily Tomlin wisely said, “Forgiveness means giving up the hope for a better past.”
I have spent years trying to change the past. I wanted to change my family, my friends, my husband and children. If only they agreed, life would be so much easier! But it doesn’t work that way.
After years of personal growth work, I discovered that the ones we want to change are mirrors for the wounded parts of our self. We react to those who activate something unresolved inside. When we understand the root of our suffering, we can forgive and move on. This is freedom.
Happy New Year to all who consider it to be so. And for each one of you reading this, may every day be a new beginning of forgiveness.
As a private question to consider yourself, who do you need to ask forgiveness from, and what do you need to forgive and let go of in yourself?
SHANAH TOVAH – שנה טובה
I think Jews around the world will benefit from reflecting on their own experience with the Jewish diaspora and find forgiveness and empathy for the Syrian refugees who have been driven from their homeland by a civil war and barbarism masquerading as religion. Israel has been disappointingly silent (or the media are not providing enough coverage) about the suffering of the Syrian people. Maybe this is an opportunity to make a people-to-people connection over the current migration crisis, but it is hard to imagine how that can happen in the context and challenge of the relentless internal conflict between Arab and Jew inside Israel and Palestine. How can there ever be peace in the Middle East without compassion, empathy and forgiveness?
Dear Steve, It breaks my heart to see the Syrian refugees fleeing from the barbarism of their own country. I can only hope that the media attention will make enough people recognize that we are all in this world together, and it’s time for – as you say – compassion, empathy, and forgiveness. Thank you for your comment. Blessings, Eileen
No one tells us as young parents, but the first 7 years of our children’s lives are the ones that we will have most impact on. Each of us can only speak for ourselves, of course. Without outwardly knowing, of course, I obviously learned by the example of my mother and my family. There were expectations, but they were couched in extraordinary positive experiences at a young age – from discovering the wonders of the forest to the actual joys of accompanying my mother on visits to
“older people’s home” where I seemed to charm the wonderful inhabitants. It was learning by doing, not by lectures. It was my normal life, wonderful and engrained in me.
And so, from the thousands of experiences, things I observed and grew from, I continued that with my own children: learn by positive influence and by example. When you feel good about yourself and are positive, it seems to have the same effect on others. Eileen, I could be wrong — but I choose to believe that.
Small wrongs? Perhaps unknowingly given but once in a while received. We cannot be bogged in the mud (I always think “tar pits”), bu we must move on. Hurts from family I have noticed? I find from observation that you may forgive, but you never forget. But I may be very wrong.
I love the meaning of Rosh Hashanah — and the entire depth of the Jewish faith. . and a gesture of kindness that your Paul gave for my son in temple will always be appreciated above all others.
Dear Joan, I just learned the other day about quantum entanglement, a phenomenon that proves that the stronger energy of one person can influence another up to 88 feet in distance. In other words, if you walk in the room with lots of positive energy, other people will respond in kind. This discovery comes from studying molecules and neurons. There was an NPR piece on it a few weeks ago. I’m going to track it down and write a blog post on it. But you might wish to look it up in the mean time. Warmly, Eileen
Not only is forgiveness giving up hope for a better past, it is building opprotunity for a better future.