Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Rosh Hashanah’s call to repentance

Posted by Charles II on September 30, 2008

Ray McGovern, Consortium News, published a piece that touched my heart:

In Judaism’s oral tradition Rosh Hashanah is the day when people are held to account. The wicked are “blotted out of the book of the living,” while the righteous are inscribed in the book of life.

Those in the middle are given 10 days to repent, until the holiday of Yom Kippur — the solemn Day of Atonement.

If that has a familiar ring to it…, we heard it in as many words at Mass last Sunday in the first reading, from Ezekiel 18: “If one turns from wickedness and does what is right and just, that one will live.”…

At Rosh Hashanah the ram’s horn trumpet blows to waken us from our slumber and alert us to the coming judgment. Rabbi Michael Lerner has been a ram’s horn for me. On Sept. 28, he sent a note addressing forgiveness and repentance.

He encourages us to find a private place to say aloud how we’ve hurt others, and then to go to them and ask forgiveness.

“Do not mitigate or ‘explain’ — just acknowledge and sincerely ask for forgiveness,” says Rabbi Lerner. He suggests we ask for “guidance and strength to rectify those hurts…

The piece is about the Iraq War and Joe Biden’s part in it, but the explanation of Rosh Hashanah applies to all of us. It is a promise that our commitment to truth and justice is not cast away: that our dedication to these is the very source of life. It is a warning that those who rely on injustice and falsehood vanish from existence, even in memory. And it is guidance to not merely seek forgiveness with words, but actively repair the wrongs we may have done.


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