Blogging Ellul: When Sorry seems to be the hardest word
The following post is an extract from the blog of Margaret Frisch Klein Rabbi Margaret phoned me from Boston a couple of days ago having stumbled across this blog and feeling our bio's were so similar she had to reach out and make a kesher - a connection. The way the web links us all now is incredible, helping us tap into resources far and wide. I found this piece on forgiveness very poignant.
Forgiveness isn’t easy. It is not something that can be legislated. It doesn’t follow any neat, prescribed timeline. It doesn’t necessarily happen all at once. In some cases it can take years. In some instances, it never happens.
This is a topic I have wrestled with, myself. As a victim of a violent crime, I get asked routinely whether I forgave the perpetrators. Sometimes, I think I have. Other times, I know I haven’t. I still wrestle with that one—and, halachically (according to Jewish law), I am not sure forgiveness is necessary. However, I have the nagging sense that it might yet be good for me, personally. Maybe, that is the impetus for creating this project. But, it is not just the big questions. I also ask, can I forgive others—my husband, my child, my friends, and family for the hurts that occur in day-to-day living? I also ask, can I can forgive myself—for big things and little ones? Can I forgive God? What does it feel like to be forgiven? I had this experience, unexpectedly, just recently, and you can read about it later in the month.The rabbis teach something else about the month of Elul, that it is an acronym for “Ani L’dodi V’Dodi Li”, a verse from Song of Songs that translates to “I am my beloved, and my beloved is mine.” This wonderful verse reminds us that God loves us. God love us all the time. We learn from the 13 Attributes of the Divine, that the repetition of Adonai, Adonai suggests that God, full of compassion, loves us before we sin and after we sin, that God is a forgiving God and that we should try to be like God. (More on that later in the month too). I learned an intriguing piece of gematria about this love. In Hebrew every letter has a numerical equivalent. Aleph is 1, Bet is 2 and so forth. So adding the letters together, Ahava, love=13 and Echad, one=13, suggesting the God of Love is One. Some have defined Atonement as At-One-Ment, being one with yourself, with others, with God, becoming more peaceful. That is what this season is about, and that is part of what the process of forgiveness helps us do. During the month of Elul, God especially wants us to be part of this discussion, to wrestle with these topics and to enter the new year clean. God meets us where we are and in love.