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Thought for the Day: Taking Something from The Days of Awe into the Rest of the Year

Here's a chutzpah (pretty cool that "chutzpah" has its own wikipedia page!):  A bloke on motorcycle cut me off today when he zipped into the bike lane.  That's not the chutzpah.  A few seconds later a car door opened that narrowly missed him, so he started yelling at the door opener to be more careful!

His chutzpah, as blatant as it was, seems to pale in comparison to the chutzpah I exhibited 10 times on Yom Kippur and dozens of times throughout the Days of Awe.  Howso?  Before each vidui (ashamnu, bagadnu, gazalnu, ...), is an introduction:
Our G‑d and G‑d or our ancestors.  May our prayers come before you; may You not ignore our supplications.  For we are not so brazen nor stubborn to say: HaShem, our G‑d and G‑d of our ancestor, we are wholly righteous and have not sinned!  In truth, though, we and our ancestors have sinned.
Really?  I have to reassure the Creator of the universe that during this most awesome time of year, and especially on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, a time distinguished by HaShem's Holy Presence being close and (so to speak) eager for our sincere repentance, that I am not going to try an pull the wool over His Celestial Eyes and claim that really I am wholly righteous and haven't really sinned at all?  Really?

Yes, really.  In explaining the mitzvah of דן לכף זכות/giving the benefit of the doubt, the Chafeitz Chaim says that just like can always finds extenuating circumstances and excuses for our behaviour, we should use that well honed character trait to benefit others.  We are expert and being able to explain and excuse our most egregious behaviours.  From "I was tired/not feeling well... so I snapped", to "the way I was raised left me with a tendency for this behaviour, so it's really not my fault", to... you can fill in all the blanks you want.

So during this most awesome time of year, and especially on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, a time distinguished by HaShem's Holy Presence being close and (so to speak) eager for our sincere repentance, I take that opportunity to actually not make excuses.  No, in truth, I have sinned.  Moreover, I saw that my ancestors sinned and how they regretted it and did not benefit, yet I still sinned.  I have no excuses, no pretenses; I have nothing but regret and shame.

How do we do that?  How do we live through that?  In our prayer, we change from "the Holy G‑d", to "the Holy King".  What's the difference?  G-d is something wholly separate from us.  He is called holy even my be most spiritually elevated beings; all the more so, us.  But the King?  There is not King without a nation.  The King is not separate from His nation, He is the Head of His nation.  Before we open ourselves up completely to shame and regret, HaShem wants us to know and feel... we are His nation; we are bound to Him and Him to us.

We are back to "the Holy G‑d", but that exquisite 10 days of closeness, of "the Holy King" (for whom we are His nation), leaves it's impression and makes us different this year than last.


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