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Still Repenting for 2016: Regret, Learning, Action

10/12/2020 10:16:53 AM



As we emerge from the High Holy Day season, I confess, I still carry guilt from the past, mistakes that have yet to be fully corrected, as deeply as I regret them and as hard as I have prayed.

Perhaps this is because, as Maimonides teaches, complete teshuvah* is not achieved in the synagogue when we recite the Yom Kippur liturgy.  Complete teshuvah is a matter of greeting a parallel situation and doing something different than what we did before.  

In a few short weeks, Americans will have a chance to enact our teshuvah for the colossal mistakes of 2016. And not just those who will change their votes or get to the ballot box for the first time.  To succeed, we must all do something different.

I may not have the power on my own to change the outcome of the election, but I owe it to myself and my children to do MUCH MORE than I did in 2016.  I have resolved to greet this parallel situation and behave differently.

With a pandemic raging, it’s a challenge.  Some of us are writing post cards.  Some are making calls. Some are getting involved in local ballot measures.  Some are reaching out to change hearts and minds.  I know I’ll be giving more political contributions than I ever have in my life.

This time, however things turn out, and especially if they don’t go the way I hope, I want to know I did everything I could.  I hope that you will too. 

It’s not too late.  Give now.  Speak up now.  Volunteer now.  The future depends on it.

In these critical weeks, I pray that our regret and our suffering might be redeemed by this chance to enact real teshuvah.  May each of us move into far more action than we did the last time we faced such a crossroads.

*Teshuvah, often translated as repentance, is the work of turning away from mistakes and bad behavior, righting our wrongs, and becoming a better person.

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