From A Positive Person, Emily Eichenhorn: As we approach the end of our High Holy Day season with Yom Kippur beginning this Friday night, my fellow Jews and I are wrapping up the process of examining our behavior over the past year and considering how to do better in the year ahead.
In the liturgy we read during these holidays, these steps for improvement are referred to as, T’Shuvah, which means, “to turn.”
The idea is that everyone can always make a course correction, turn away from past missteps, and continue on life’s journey along a different, and arguably better, path, unencumbered by the weight of the misdeeds we acknowledged. Kind of like the GPS in your car that recognizes when you’ve veered off the best route, accepts that you need to readjust, and maps out a new way for you to continue to travel toward your selected destination.
This is an important and empowering concept, certainly. But this year, I’ve been focusing on the other part of the T’Shuvah process: the part that emphasizes not the turning away from our past behavior, but instead requires us to turn toward other people.
Our tradition says that we can successfully move forward only after we have sought forgiveness from and apologized to other individuals we’ve wronged or with whom we’ve had conflict in the past year. In other words, when times are at the roughest in our interpersonal relations, we should make a concerted effort to turn toward each other, attempting to bridge whatever gaps have come between us, and aiming toward understanding and peaceful coexistence.
This idea seems particularly apt for these times. As tensions rise between neighbors and countries, and more and more we hear various forms of a “me and mine first” attitude, every effort to reconnect and engage at an individual level is a turn for the better. Empathy is a powerful, essential, tool for living. But it is often surprisingly easy to abandon in the throes of day-to-day existence. As we balance our own needs and desires against the effort it can take to consider someone else’s hurts or losses, our internal pathfinders turn us away from the strife that empathy could stir.
So, in that spirit, I want to apologize for any time I may have turned away from you in this past year, by failing to listen sincerely, by dismissing your fears, or in some other way keeping you or your concerns at arm’s length, and I forgive you for doing the same to me, whether inadvertently or not.
My wish for you and yours in the coming year is for great scenery along life’s path, strong connections within your community, surprising new relationships with old acquaintances or adversaries, a great sound track for your journey, health and strength to help you explore new roads, and peace in your home and heart.
L’Shana Tova—Happy New Year To You!
Craig’s Comments: For the longest I have been wanting to feature positive people and share their positive ways or deeds. When I first started the site years ago, I did, (only once or twice) but for some reason I stopped and never got back to it. I think I was waiting for the perfect way. Anyway this morning I got this wonderful email from Emily, a customer from my gutter and window cleaning business. Although I am not of the Jewish faith myself, the letter was so wonderful and filled with so many well intentions and good insight, that I wanted to share it, and her positivity with you. I hope you enjoyed it and are inspired as I am to examine my life, make the changes needed, and reach out to others.
Peace and Blessings