Elul Homework 2 (I've done that too!)

confirmation and verification

Some­times we think that we are the only per­son who has done such ter­ri­ble things to oth­ers. It can be lib­er­at­ing and for­giv­ing for us, and those oth­ers like us, to learn that we are not alone. It also often feels good to have oth­ers “sign off” on rec­og­niz­ing that we may have done some­thing wrong as Yankel half-jok­ing­ly sug­gest­ed in his com­ment on the Elul Home­work 1 page:

…per­haps the check­list should have a place for the wronged per­son to sign, i.e. “for­giv­en on (date), by (wronged per­son)”.

So, I offer this pos­si­bil­i­ty.
How many of us have been to a par­ty with strangers and been asked to fill out a “get acquaint­ed grid”? We might be a bit more for­giv­ing of oth­ers and our­selves if we could learn that those with whom we work and/or live have in our his­to­ries and per­haps even recent expe­ri­ences sim­i­lar strug­gles.

the “I’ve done that too” grid

Judah and Pin­chas learned while sit­ting among the col­leagues and stu­dents of R. Ila’i that we all share the same bound­aries of birth and death as well as many of the same short­com­ings.

  • We have let friend­ships dete­ri­o­rate because we haven’t tried to bridge the gap of hurt.
  • We have not helped when we could.
  • We have expressed sor­row for our actions, but only when we felt it might pre­vent worse con­se­quences.
  • We have done things to oth­ers that we would not want done to our­selves.
the selichot "bingo" card

a por­tion of the (down­load­able) seli­chot “bin­go” card

While there are fre­quent­ly more than twelve steps to solv­ing prob­lems and the idea that we have the capa­bil­i­ty of solv­ing our prob­lems with­out “pro­fes­sion­al” help can be and has been ridiculed, there is a truth in the idea that we have with­in us the abil­i­ty (per­haps with some inter­ven­tion from oth­ers who know and under­stand us) to col­lect those mis-aimed arrows and cor­rect our aim.

full disclosure

I admit to hav­ing a per­son­al con­nec­tion to this idea. My father, who worked as a pro­fes­sion­al mar­riage and fam­i­ly coun­selor spent much of the last years of his career study­ing what he called “Peer Self Help Psy­chother­a­py Groups” (PSH­PGs we called them). He did his research (in the ear­ly and mid 1970s) long before the groups became com­mon in pop­u­lar cul­ture and lat­er renamed “Self-Help Mutu­al Aid Groups”. He believed that by de-com­mer­cial­iz­ing the ther­a­peu­tic rela­tion­ships these groups had as much, if not more effi­ca­cy than pro­fes­sion­al psy­chother­a­py. In addi­tion, Dad, though an athe­ist, thought he found some of the ori­gins of these groups in reli­gious move­ments. His work formed part of the ker­nal of the sto­ry of Betha­mi and R. Ila’i.

origins of the rabbinic yom kippur observance

How did it hap­pen that what was once exclu­sive­ly a sac­ri­fi­cial event in the Holy Tem­ple in Jerusalem become trans­formed into a gath­er­ing for the pub­lic con­fes­sion of wrong-doing? The sources only tell us that the trans­for­ma­tion occurred, as though the cur­tain went down on the Tem­ple and rose a moment lat­er dis­play­ing the syn­a­gogue and the litur­gy we now know.

Over the cen­turies we have added many “exer­cis­es” to the tasks of Yom Kip­pur. I believe, if we were to focus at least as much on their mean­ing as we do on the for­mal litur­gy, we might gain greater ful­fill­ment from the day. And so…

You can down­load a copy of the Seli­chot Home­work Sheet 2, make copies and dis­trib­ute them for your own use. This one exists only in PDF for­mat. In the next cou­ple of weeks, as we come near­er to Rosh haShan­nah and Yom Kip­pur I will present addi­tion­al (online) tools to help explore the mean­ing of the Al Ḥet.


Many lapel but­tons are nov­el­ty items, some­times pro­duced com­mer­cial­ly. So it is with this one. I don’t know the ori­gin of this but­ton, though it dates from the 1980s. I have nev­er worn it. (I prob­a­bly nev­er will wear it… I don’t iden­ti­fy with the val­ue it rep­re­sents.) As we approach the High Holy Days, our task is to come to terms with the issues that face us and not sim­ply kvetch.
kvetcher

kvetch­er

Date: 1980s
Size: 3.6
Pin Form: clasp
Print Method: cel­lu­loid
Text kvetch­er

your lapel buttons

Many peo­ple have lapel but­tons. They may be attached to a favorite hat or jack­et you no longer wear, or poked into a cork-board on your wall. If you have any lay­ing around that you do not feel emo­tion­al­ly attached to, please let me know. I pre­serve these for the Jew­ish peo­ple. At some point they will all go to an appro­pri­ate muse­um. You can see all the but­tons shared to date.

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