?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

atonement

Hmm. Lots of Yom Kippur entries in my friends page lately. I'm not Jewish, don't practice religion, but I can see how a day of atonement, where you start by asking the forgiveness of those you've wronged over the past year, is an extremely powerful tool for maintaining a good mental and spiritual bill of health.

But I see a couple posts of the form "Anyone who I may have wronged, I ask your forgiveness." And this seems to me to be missing the point. Seems to me, one must mentally go over the last year, spend time contemplating your actions, trying to see them from others' points of view. You can't ask others to tell you you've wronged them; it's unreliable, and it's giving them yet another burden.

The key is to spend time examining your own life and seeing how it affects others. If you see places where it affects others negatively, ask forgiveness, be relieved of a burden on your subconscious, and change your actions for the future.

Am I wrong here?

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
navrins
Sep. 24th, 2004 06:09 am (UTC)
I would say that a blanket apology does not, by itself, fulfil the purpose. But it's a safe assumption that we've all done little wrongs over the course of a year that we're just not going to think of, even if we know they were wrong in the first place - and an extra "...and anything else I'm forgetting" in addition to all the things you *do* remember can't hurt.

I'd certainly agree with you that someone who *just* says "Anyone who I may have wronged, I ask your forgiveness," and thinks they've done their Yom Kippur duty, is missing the point.
geekosaur
Sep. 24th, 2004 06:15 am (UTC)
It's intended to cover all the bases; Yom Kippur grants atonement for offenses against God, but for offenses against other people one must be forgiven by those people as well. (Admittedly this is difficult if you've offended someone and they either haven't said they were offended or won't talk about it — but I don't think this is really intended to cover that situation.)

That said, I'm not convinced that such a blanket request for forgiveness is especially meaningful; it really needs to be between the offender and the offended and in private. (IMO but I think there's stuff in the Talmud supporting the view.)

hakamadare
Sep. 24th, 2004 06:27 am (UTC)
I'm not convinced that such a blanket request for forgiveness is especially meaningful

i concur, but i would add that i've also seen a slightly different twist that works a lot better for me; namely, the "public service announcment" along the lines of "hey, for those who don't know, Yom Kippur is coming up, and so i'm thinking about those i might have wronged during the past year. if you're holding a grudge against me, i'm particularly receptive to hearing about it at present."

this isn't so much offering a blanket apology as reminding others that the poster is looking to make up for past wrongs. i know that i, for example, struggle intensely with approaching people who i think have wronged me, mainly because i think they won't be receptive to the subject; an announcement like this can help to lower that barrier. more to the point, this sort of announcment does not claim to be sufficient to discharge the poster's Yom Kippur obligations.

hm. that makes me inclined to post something similar in my own journal. :)

-steve
crs
Sep. 24th, 2004 06:56 am (UTC)
Er, and an apology to jbsegal for my having commented on his post without having fully read it, and being totally wrong as to the nature of that section of his post.

I thought there were at least two such posts in my friends list, but I'm only seeing that one now; early morning hallucinations, I'm guessing. So no one is actually doing this thing that I complain about, but it was still an opportunity to think about the nature of this holiday and how it can be applied to even a secular life. Er, non-secular. Whichever of those two words that I mean.
jbsegal
Sep. 24th, 2004 07:58 am (UTC)
Heh. I was just about to comment that at least in my case I realized that I was not really being as thoughtful and 'correct' as I should be. :)

That said: A) 'commented'?? I see nothing (in my emailed comments)
B) Forgiven. :)
crs
Sep. 24th, 2004 08:02 am (UTC)
"commented" is the wrong word, given the specific meaning that word has in this context; "remarked" may have been better.

Thanks!
hammercock
Sep. 24th, 2004 10:09 am (UTC)
But I see a couple posts of the form "Anyone who I may have wronged, I ask your forgiveness."

My feeling is that it is insufficient to just issue a plea for forgiveness. You can't just ask to be forgiven and expect it to happen; you have to be open to hearing the other person's grievance and doing what it takes to fix it. Only then do you have the right to ask for forgiveness, and even then you may have to suck it up if they don't feel like extending it. However, at that point, you've at least achieved karmic balance by doing what you could to resolve the situation.

You can't ask others to tell you you've wronged them; it's unreliable, and it's giving them yet another burden.

I disagree. There are times when one might unknowingly have wronged another person, and one won't have the chance to do anything about it unless it is brought to one's attention. No one is telepathic, and there are a lot of people (myself included, at times), who choose to keep silent when feeling hurt. I will not accept the burden of trying to read someone's mind, nor do I expect anyone to read mine. If someone's got something to say to me, it's incumbent upon them to say it or risk having it go unaddressed
aroraborealis
Sep. 24th, 2004 09:52 pm (UTC)
I will not accept the burden of trying to read someone's mind

I feel mixed about this. It's true that we can't always know how someone else is feeling, and we can't always be held as though knowledgable about those little slights and missteps. On the other hand, however, I think it's far too easy for people to put all the responsibility on that other person, and to say, "Well, if they're feeling hurt, they should bring it up with me," or what have you, and I think that's appealling, since, hey, I don't have to be clueful!, but, really, I don't think it's the most productive approach to good ("right", if you will) human interaction. I think it's important to pay attention and TRY to be aware when you make those missteps. Will I always catch myself? Of course not. But it's important (to me) to make the attempt. And, in some ways, that's a big part of Yom Kippur, turning that critical eye on myself, and, I hope, learning so that next year, I have fewer people with whom to make amends.
hammercock
Sep. 25th, 2004 01:42 am (UTC)
I think it's important to pay attention and TRY to be aware when you make those missteps.

Absolutely. I in no way meant to imply that this was an either/or situation. Embrace the power of "and." :)

I'm just saying that you can also fall into a trap of very intense navel-gazing when you start to wonder if every little thing you do might have offended someone, and that's not really better. I like there to be a happy medium, where I do my best to be good to people, but they can also feel empowered to approach me if they feel I've done something wrong.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )