It seems like yesterday that we were shuddering in shul on Yom Kippur, pleading with Hashem to forgive our sins, wrongdoings and transgressions. Especially those that involved unethical and mean-spirited treatment of friends, relatives and strangers alike.
We promised that if we were inscribed in the Book of Life; if we were given another opportunity to start anew, we would mend our ways and improve the way we treated one another. We would be kinder, more generous – both with our time and our money – and be less judgmental in assessing other people’s actions. If anything, we would make an effort to go overboard in giving people the benefit of the doubt when something they did or did not do was questionable in terms of how proper or “kosher” it was.
We would take the high road and refrain from lashon harah or spreading gossip- even if the information was true.
We would set aside our jealousy and truly fargin another person’s good fortune and wish him/her well, instead of secretly seething and wondering why, for example, our neighbor’s daughter got engaged and ours is older “and has so many more mylas (assets, like looks or personality) so why did our friend have it so easy, while we are pulling teeth to get our daughter a date?
Many of us were sincere when we fervently resolved during those Days of Awe to elevate ourselves and be Torahdik Jews.
But, being flawed human beings, once we feel we are “out of danger,” we relax and let our guard down. With Yom Tov over, we have resumed our regular routines and have let old habits control us once again.
Below is a poem that expresses how despite our best intentions, despite our hakarat hatov to Hashem for his benevolence, we forget our promises to Him and go back to our old, unfortunate ways.
In the dark of the night, I turn on the light,
I thank You, my Creator, for the gift of my sight.
Yet I misuse Your blessing – I cause others to cry,
Jealously and resentment bring out my Evil Eye.
When my children call out, I have no fear,
I thank You, my Maker, for letting me hear.
Yet I use this bracha to tune in to malicious chatter,
If what’s said is even true- it doesn’t really matter.
When I need to convey, to verbally reach,
I open my mouth – You blessed me with speech.
But I abuse my heavenly gift, for I gossip, I smear,
Even those who trust me, who hold me so dear.
My hands enable me to do as I please,
I can touch, I can hold, I can grasp with great ease.
Yet I use this divine blessing to hit, to cause pain,
Even when my heart knows there is nothing to gain.
I can go, I can do, I can move when I’m ready,
You have given me legs that are strong and steady.
Yet I run to do acts that I know are not right,
Giving in to impulses that I chose not to fight.
This Yom Kipper was no different than those of the past,
I promised to mend my ways – but my will didn’t last.
I behaved, I self-controlled, I had a few good days,
But I quickly fell back to my familiar, errant ways.
You have been so patient. You have forgiven me each year.
Truly You are a Father who holds His children dear.
Please continue to forgive me though my iniquities persist,
For without Your loving kindness, I could not exist.