Rabbi Nancy Rita Myers
We are now at the end of the Hebrew month of Elul, and the time of preparing for our High Holy Days ends tonight. Preparation will be over, and the work of forgiveness begins. Forgiving and asking for forgiveness are essential themes of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Maimonides, a great sage who lived in the Middle Ages, wrote “It is forbidden for a person to be cruel and refuse to be appeased. Rather, he should be easily pacified, but hard to anger. When the person who wronged him asks for forgiveness, he should forgive him with a complete heart and a willing spirit. Even if he aggravated and wronged him severely, he should not seek revenge or bear a grudge.”
Maimonides teaches the importance of forgiveness. However, letting go of our disappointment, anger, hurt, and pain can at times feel impossible. I have struggled with it for years. On my mother’s side of the family, people keep grudges for decades. Yikes! I have found though if I can understand the other person’s pain, grief, insecurity, and fear; it is much easier to let things roll off my back. I ask myself what challenges is the other person facing? Could they be having a hard time at work, in school, with their family, or significant other? When I’m able to see the person as one who is also struggling, I’m less likely to be offended or wounded by their words or actions. I’ve found that with compassion, it is easier to be appeased.
On behalf of all of us who participated in Elul Thoughts 5780, we wish you and yours a Shanah Tovah Umetukah! May the New Year be good and sweet for you and your loved ones!
As we move from 5780 to 5781, we want to thank those of you who have been reading our Elul Thoughts, especially if you have been reading them for eight years. One of the great High Holy Day texts reminds us that T’shuvah, T’filah, and Tzedakah help nullify judgment’s severe decree. We hope we have put you on the road toward T’shuvah (repentance) with these daily messages. That is surely our goal. We also hope to have gotten you in the mood for T’filah (prayer) of the High Holy Days. If you have appreciated these messages, we also hope you will consider a gift of Tzeddakah to one or all of the synagogues represented by these daily Elul thoughts. Your gifts help keep us inspired to bring messages of renewal to our congregations.
Thank you, and Shanah Tovah!
Rabbi Heidi Cohen, Hanefesh, Orange County, CA
Rabbi Matthew Cohen, Congregation B’nai Israel, Galveston, TX
Rabbi Benjamin David, Adath Emanu-El, Mount Laurel, NJ
Rabbi Brad Levenberg, Temple Sinai, Atlanta, GA
Rabbi Eric Linder, Congregation Children of Israel, Athens, GA
Rabbi Alan E. Litwak, Temple Sinai, North Miami Beach, FL
Rabbi Larry Malinger, Temple Shalom, Aberdeen, NJ
Rabbi Nancy Rita Myers, Temple Beth David, Westminster, CA
Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld, Congregation Albert, Albuquerque, NM
Rabbi Benjamin Sharff, The Reform Temple of Rockland, Upper Nyack, NY
Rabbi Michael Sommer, Har-Shalom Synagogue, Northbrook, IL
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, TX
Rabbi Michael Weinstein, Temple Israel, Tulsa, OK
Rabbi David N. Young, Congregation B’nai Tzedek, Fountain Valley, CA