I sincerely hope that you are enjoying a wonderful summer, and are finding the time to do those things that have had to wait.
Most of us set goals for this “down time”, which most often take the form of reading, traveling, exercising, or learning a new skill. It is our expectation that we will seize the opportunity to reach those goals. Unfortunately, too often, we miss the mark completely or find “reasons” for not accomplishing that which we set out to do.
Enter the “beat myself up” stage! Our tradition wrestles with this issue as well, and responds in a striking manner. We read, “you are not required to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it”. We are then encouraged, even pushed to strive, to reach and then extend our reach. Why? Is the objective to frustrate…to accentuate the negative? I do not think so. I believe that our tradition embraces us…knowing only too well that sometimes we do, in fact, miss the mark. Our entire Selichot prayers and Yom Kippur zero in on this idea.
We fully expect to be given the opportunity to ask God for forgiveness for sins we have committed. And we know that we must ask forgiveness directly from other people before we are forgiven. But what about the many times we have been cruel to ourselves? What about those instances when we closed our eyes to reality, or doubted ourselves or assumed that we would not measure up in either a physical or emotional way? Again, Judaism’s message is that we are to try…really try to achieve our goal or improve our knowledge and our skill sets. When we are able to walk away from the challenge, win or lose, and know that we gave it our all…only then can we feel our heads upright and our spirits lifted, ready to take on the next one!
PS. Please pass this along to your children and or grandchildren. Thanks!!
Again, I wish you and yours a wonderful and safe summer!
Hazzan Martin Leubitz