Tuesday, September 15, 2009

For the misdeed we have committed before you, G-d, by judging

For the misdeed we have committed before you, G-d, by judging

Amongst the many misdeeds we ask G-d to forgive us for during this time and season of repentance, there is one particular line which always strikes me as supremely important and yet is too often glossed over. In the middle of the Vidui, we say these words:

על חטא שחטאנו לפניף בפלילות

For the misdeeds we have done before you, G-d, in judging others.

We are in a penitent mood as we come before G-d as judge of all that we are and what we will be. We cite all of the misdeeds we do as a matter of course – eating incorrectly, not observing the standards of behavior we are to observe, not speaking properly, not sharing our resources with others enough, and so many others. Yet, too often, while we look at ourselves with our hypersensitive sense of accountability as we seriously engage in taking stock of ourselves (Cheshbon HaNefesh), do we truly understand that in holding ourselves accountable to the Judge of all, namely G-d, we are not to judge others?

One of my children, Talie, often cites her favorite teaching as:

דן לכף זכות
Give others the benefit of the doubt.

These familiar words from Pirke Avot remind us to let G-d judge; we do not have to do G-d’s tasks for G-d; in fact we are not to do so. To help each other, to guide as appropriate, to mentor, to teach… all of these deeds are indeed noble, but TO JUDGE is something entirely different.

A thought --- by leaving G-d as Judge of all people, this frees us up to accept each other, practice the many other deeds that we are to do – take care of the poor, build bridges of understanding, feed all who are in need, listen and care for each other, and so much else that the prophets enjoin us to do --- while G-d will judge each person as G-d sees fit.

Nonetheless, I often come across people who still feel that they must assist Ribbonu shel Olam in these matters and find that in the best of circumstances and in giving all of these people the benefit of the doubt as my daughter, Talie would have me do, too many hurt feelings and perceptions of exclusion and inadequacy are projected onto too many well meaning people who may not meet the standards of those who are judging them. This I find so sad. I then comment that I am impatient with those who judge and hurt in such a manner. I often explain that “I am tolerant and accepting of everyone and everything except intolerance and lack of acceptance.” But, of course, my daughter Talie says that this too is intolerant.

So as we approach this season of self reflection with aspirations for improvement, I pray as follows:

על חטא שחטאנו לפניף בפלילות

For the misdeeds we have done before you, G-d, in judging others, (we ask forgiveness).

Maybe if we all take up this banner and I work really hard with my intolerance of intolerance, we will all come closer to being the people that G-d wants us to strive to be.

May all of you be inscribed for a happy and healthy year ---

לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו

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