Second Chances on the High Holydays
You probably heard this one already, so humour me and laugh a little. The story is told that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the commandments he told the People, “I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I kept Him down to ten, the bad news: adultery is still in.”
When Moses descended the mountain with the tablets, he saw the people of Israel worshipping the Golden Calf and in response threw them to the ground and they shattered. One may think that this was the lowest point in the history of the Jewish people. Yet God gave Moses a second set to replace the first. Why?
In the second year after the exodus from Egypt, God commands the People to make a Passover sacrifice on the 14th of Nisan. Then God adds that those who are unable to make the first sacrifice, can make a second Passover sacrifice (Pesah Sheini) the following month. Why?
The lesson here is that there is always hope. No matter how great the missed opportunity may seem, God always provides us with another chance. He is ready to give us an opening to repair the damage and pick up the pieces. Whether it is our relationship with God, our spouses, our kids, our friends, our colleagues or even those who are no longer with us. We always have the opportunity to make amends.
The Jewish people wanted to do the mitzvah of Passover so badly, that they asked Him for a second chance.
On Rosh HaShanah, we have the second chance, the opportunity to perform Teshuvah, the act of returning to a better path in life and to right a wrong and ask for forgiveness. The first step is to be aware that what we did was wrong and then feel bad, regret what happened. Next is to verbalize your feelings and apologize to the person. Lastly, is to make a plan that it will never happen again.
Yizkor is the traditional custom of attending synagogue to recall the souls of the departed and to give charity in their memory. It is rooted in the fundamental Jewish belief in the eternity of the soul. Because the soul is always present, we can reach out and heal any regretful actions that we have taken.
This year, let us work to heal the fractures in our relationships with those we love.
I look forward to seeing you all in synagogue on the High Holydays. On behalf of my wife, Heather and children, Benjamin and Madelyn, I want to wish you and your families a Sweet and Healthy New Year.