Monday, September 16, 2013

An alphabet of woe

Who among is righteous enough to say: ‘I have not sinned?’ We are arrogant, brutal, careless, destructive, egocentric, false, greedy, heartless, insolent, and joyless. Our sins are an alphabet of woe.

For those of you who weren't really hungry this weekend, let me fill you in. This line is from the Reform Jewish Movement's Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) liturgy. On Yom Kippur Jews confess their sins collectively so not to embarrass those who actually are heartless or insolent. The traditional Hebrew prayer, Ashamnu, is also an alphabetical acrostic.

This year, as always, I was not righteous enough to say, I have not sinned. This year, it was clear that I had committed just a few of these alphabetical sins, most obviously arrogance, carelessness, and destructive behavior.

And that was very clear as I stood for long periods during the communal confessions of these sins.

While the actual pain isn't the point, the time to sit and think about your short comings is exactly the point. My ankle hurt a lot during these extended standing prayers. So when we were sitting there and doing our thing, I had the time to contemplate my arrogance and carelessness.

I believe that after dealing with this injury, or rather not dealing with it, I won't commit these sins again. And it is also part of the liturgy that to truly atone, one must not only be sorry, but not do it again.

Happy New Year Jews and here is to not being an arrogant asshat in 5774. 

No comments: