Yud Hei Vuv Hei
compassion and tenderness, patience, forbearance, kindness, awareness
bearing love from age to age lifting guilt and mistakes and making us free.
יְהוָה יְהוָה אֵל רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם וְרַב חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת.
נֹצֵר חֶסֶד לָאֲלָפִים נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן וָפֶשַׁע וְחַטָּאָה וְנַקֵּה
I asked a mentor why we ask for forgiveness in the prayer book over and over again? We know that forgiveness is a given for God, in fact the Gemara teaches that forgiveness comes before creation. Forgiveness is built into the foundation of existence.
We can see it in the garden each year. I planted 2 morning glories last summer and by the end of the season I had damaged them with overwatering, they no longer flowered and their leaves turned yellow. To add insult to injury I left them uncovered in the harsh winter frost. By spring the vines were browned and dead. So I cleaned out one of the pots to reuse but left the other intact planning on getting to it later, as many of us experience later, never happened and I left it bare. Nevertheless as the summer progressed seedlings began to pop out of the soil and slowly vines wound their way up the trellis and then when I least expected it one flower bloomed and then another. No matter the damage I did, the plant knew how to return to its fullness.
Unfortunately for us it is not so easy- YES God forgives and it is this forgiveness that teaches us how to do it. But our prayer books are misleading- they are written from the perspective and life experience of man- They think God needs cajoling, praise and convincing, but this is not the truth. God needs none of that. Who needs to work at forgiveness? Who needs to hear it over and over, and this way and that way until the songs are stuck in our head and our fists are strained from pounding our chest? We do. In our humanity, in our ego states we are the ones that need to repeat the words over and over. not for God but for each other.
The Rambam teaches that in order to achieve teshuva we must state our confession to God verbally. The words that you speak begging god for forgiveness those are not for god, those are for us. Those are mirrors, mirrors of our inner reality, mirrors of our truth, mirrors that reflect back to us the places that needs healing. Don't ever confuse GOD with humans. God does not need the repetition- from Gods perspective you are forgiven already. But the second part of the biblical statement that is omitted from your prayer books that is where the truth lies.
לֹא יְנַקֶּה פֹּקֵד עֲוֹן אָבוֹת עַל בָּנִים וְעַל בְּנֵי בָנִים עַל שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל רִבֵּעִים.
You will not be free- the sins of the fathers will rest on the children to the third and forth generation.
The pain and suffering we create in the world it has an effect on the other, it travels through time and space effecting generations. As we stand this week after 3 Hurricanes and 2 earthquakes have hit the southern part of this world in painful succession we can see the effects of our intergenerational ignorance. As we look around our country this year we are seeing the effects of years of hidden fear and pain coming to the surface. And as I look into my family life, I am seeing the intergenerational trauma that was hidden for so long. How many of us keep secrets and hide the truth in the guise of protection? And how many of us find that no matter how hard we try to hide the truth, the truth seeps in whether we speak it or not? And ultimately when it comes out of hiding when the words are spoken aloud when we can claim our victimhood, our pain, our reality, that is when the healing begins. And if we don’t come to terms with it if we are unable to speak the truth out loud, eventually it returns in all of its power causing the exact damage we were hoping to keep away.
I pray for the ability to stand in truth, name it and slowly heal all that comes afterwards.