09 Sep Selichot; Prayers for Forgiveness and Mercy – Yom Tov
Some may say ‘Progress Not Perfection’….
Jewish Wisdom teaches ‘Progress Toward Perfection’…
To achieve greatness aim high, don’t lower the bar.
Selichot; Prayers for Forgiveness and Mercy
The most effective and meaningful amends and ones personal growth of character-midos,
comes from a searching inventory – a cheshbon hanefesh of ourselves. Elul, now, is that time.
During the year, and during Selichot and Yom Tov, when we ‘say out loud’ the Vidue – Confession, we are creating a new reality through our speech in much the same way as ‘Hashem created the Universe with speech’. This is an admission of our transgressions, the beginning of our tshuvah. These transgressions (as many are) may be applicable to the Laws of Derogatory or Evil Speech… Loshen Hora, and we all have contributed to transgressing these laws at some point, either individually or collectively.
As one example, our admission of letter tet (above) admits that ‘we have accused falsely’. Although it is a transgression to accuse falsely, it is not a transgression to bring to someone’s attention how you believe they may have harmed you. If there has been an obstacle created in a relationship, how else might someone know what the issue is unless you tell them.
The idea behind asking or giving forgiveness is to make it possible to have a better relationship. One must acquire the traits of Humility, Honesty, Sincerity, Compassion and Acceptance are of the greatest character traits to strive for in the process of tshuvah (the return to a pure state of spiritual connection).
When asking for forgiveness a person should of course be sincere in his regret of his transgression. He should also share that he has stopped doing the transgressions, has a plan to help him continue his process of tshuvah… Tshuvah is a process. It is advisable to check with an expert (LOR-Rabbi).
When granting forgiveness, it should be known that forgiveness cannot unreasonably be withheld. You have become a vehicle for an others tshuvah, his mitzvot to become elevated. As the one who forgives , there is great mitzvah, accordingly there is obligations that come with a person in that position. First and foremost the one who forgives must recognize the sincerity of another. If they are sincere, if they stopped , if they have a plan for ‘wellness’ (which in some cases may include compensation), then there is reason to withhold forgiveness. Where you are unclear, check with an expert LOR-Rabbi).
The ‘program of tshuvah’ (as taught by Maimonides, The Rambam in Hilchos Tshuva) as prescribed by Jewish Wisdom has had a far reaching effect on the world. Millions have been helped by the 12 Step programs that contain Torah Wisdom. The first step of the 12 Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is ;
‘We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (or for other issues one may insert any other damaging substances or behaviors; anger, lust, PC, cell phone), and our lives became unmanageable’.
Whether the program of Jewish Wisdom as Tshuva or the 12 Steps of AA, to begin the process of change-thsuvah a person must Admit (vidue) their problem (transgression) and Stop engaging in that behavior. In this simple statement one of admission a person creates a new life reality through admission, humility, sincerity, honesty, and begins developing a realization with a Being beyond ones self which is more powerful, greater than the ‘ME’.., that being is Infinite.., that Being is G-d.
It is very important to know that although we have admitted our wrongs and asked for forgiveness and mercy, this is only the beginning of the process of tshuvah. A person is then required to follow through with the necessary changes (check with an expert to be guided in these matters) in his life in order to ensure that transgression is not repeated. Only then is ones tshuvah considered to be ‘complete‘.
Leib Getzel (Lawrence) Lax
Addictions and Counseling (Honors)