These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Forgiving Myself on this Yom Kippur

Posted on September 10, 2013 by Jessica Baverman

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From my blog:

Jessica BavermanHere it is. Yom Kippur 2013/5774. This year’s High Holidays sprung upon me somewhat quickly.

This is a tough Yom Kippur. It’s been 10 years since my Aunt Rhona died on Yom Kippur in 2003. How has it been so long? This year, I think I have also been very hard on myself. I know I made a lot of mistakes this year. I struggled. I was challenged. I said and did the wrong things.

Yom Kippur is a time when we are supposed to ask forgiveness of others as a way to “wipe the slate clean.” The idea is that should atone for any and all sins/ transgressions/ missteps/ and times we missed the mark that are left on our conscious or subconscious before Yom Kippur, so that in the case (Gd forbid) that something happens before Yom Kippur, we will have been absolved of any wrongdoing. I don’t abide by the superstitions so much, but I think this is a great time of year to reflect and ask forgiveness of others. It definitely is not an easy thing to do. In the Torah, we are told to “afflict” ourselves – hence, the no eating, drinking, sleeping, or washing. This year, I know I will be afflicting myself.

The most difficult thing I am dealing with for this Yom Kippur is forgiving myself. This isn’t something we have spoken a lot about in class or among friends. But it is something on my mind as this Yom Kippur arrives.

How can I go about forgiving myself for my mistakes, my insensitivity, my ignorance, and my self-doubt? What about the self-hate, the gossip I’ve spilled, and the other bad things I’ve said? Also, what about the selfishness, the arrogance, and silencing of others and myself? Ignoring people I shouldn’t have, not staying in communication with family and friends when I should have, not taking advice when I asked for it, and being false to myself and others? And then there’s also the jealousy, indulgence, turning my back on things I should have paid attention to, (unintentionally) embarrassing others, being ungrateful (or not acknowledging when I was grateful of someone), and uncertainty. Among many more.

I think it is much harder to forgive myself this year than any other year. Maybe I’m being more introspective than before, or maybe since I’ve been learning how to recognize these things in myself, this is the first year I really can explain them. This Yom Kippur, as I daven in synagogue or at home, I will be thinking about Rhona and the 10 years that have passed since her death, and I will also be thinking about the ways I’ve wronged others and myself. I hope to learn to forgive myself this day and everyday.

לשנה טובה וגמר חתימה טובה