Thursday, September 25, 2008

For the sin which I have committed before you...

I was on the subway on my way to work this morning wearing my headphones and listening to New Order. I was running late and not interested in distractions.

Then a man started shouting from the other end of the car. I usually ignore it, as this happens a lot. Sometimes it is a speech, other times it is singing or passing around the hat. But I was in a kind of teary mood for some reason, and so I was listening both to New Order and to the yelling man. The subway car was quietish: the commute to work is usually much quieter than at other times of day. I guess it's because most of us are still asleep.

This is roughly what the man said.

"Sorry to bother you, ladies and gentlemen. But I'm really hungry and I hope you can help me. Do you have any extra food? Some food, a few pennies. I'm sorry to do this, but I made a lot of mistakes, I really messed up in my life, and I don't have anything to eat."

Then, he said loudly, but kind of plaintively: "God, I'm sorry. I really messed up."

By the time he reached me, my eyes were pooling with tears and I had reached into my bag and handed him the container which held my lunch.

I got off the train moments later feeling a deep sense of sadness.

This year, just like every year, I will read the Al Cheit and know that I have committed at least (if not more than) 90% of those sins...the sin of pride, of speaking ill of others, of running to do something wrong, of having haughty eyes, of eating and drinking too much. And all the rest.

God, I am really sorry. I messed up.

Every year, I cry on Yom Kippur. I have messed up in so many ways, I have so many people to beg for forgiveness. I have done so many rude, crude, hurtful things and I have really messed it up so many times. We all have; this is why Al Cheit is in the plural, because as a human collective (and as a Jewish people) we've done all this stuff.

But today I know that although I have a lot to say I'm sorry for and about, in all the ways I messed up, that I have a long way to go before I can make that public, heart pounding confession on Yom Kippur. I need to spend some really meaningful time (between driving matchbox cars around the living room and making applesauce as a project, and oh, working and preparing for the holidays) considering how I've missed the mark and how I'm going to work towards making it in the future.

It was easy to give away my lunch. It will be harder to do real teshuva.

Shana tova u'metukah.


Shelli said...

thanks for your beautiful, eloquent post. And thanks to Juggling Frogs for pointing us here.

I'm an administrator for a Shul in Riverdale, and see many of the same commuters on the 1 train, daily.

As an admin for a Shul, it's SO hard to focus on the TRUE work of Elul, when the Rabbi needs song sheet xeroxed now, and the board needs the latest counts of tickets sold. Thanks for reminding me.

Anonymous said...

Nice and honest post I can relate to.

Marcela said...

Your posts are so thoughtful and inspiring. Thanks!

Lemon said...

Lovely post. I think you hit the mark dead center when you gave him your lunch!It was a beautiful thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, everyone, for your warm words. Now I have to go get ready for Shabbat...may it be a sweet one for all...