Letters to God – Part 19: Fasting

God, I HATE fasting.

There, I said it. The whole idea of not eating and drinking (specially drinking) for a day to elevate my body and become closer to an angel. Sorry, but my stomach does not seem to understand that he is now part of an angel that doesn’t eat. And my head feels likewise. And why in the middle of the summer? Why not put the day of fasting in the middle of winter? We would all really appreciate it.

So a couple of days before the fast I start getting very itchy. Just the thought of the fast… but let’s change the subject, OK? Let’s talk about Yom Kippur – the day of atonement.

Leaving outside the fasting (did I say I hate fasting?), it is overall a very interesting day. A day that concludes a ten-day period (for some 40+) where we ask for forgiveness for all of the things that we did wrong last year (since everything we do is good by definition, we surely did nothing bad last year. But we still can do thing that are wrong). And we ask you for forgiveness. And to please write us and sign us in the books of life, good deeds, livelihood, and many other books. You must have a very big library :-).

This year Yom Kippur was very difficult for me. I have been thinking about my life for the past half a year and more. And I still can’t make any sense of how things work. And I see that small children, that never did anything wrong, are not written in the book of health and life, but in the book of suffering and death. You tell us that this day “you shall afflict your souls”. My soul is already miserable God. I think that my actions have so much influence on my son’s pain. That if only I was a “better” person, then he would get well… But these are just dumb thoughts (and also somewhat megalomaniac). You are more complicated than that. It’s not as simple as cause and effect. Good people sometimes suffer a lot. Bad people sometimes live very good lives. Mysterious are your ways.

When I was at school, our Rabbi would tell us that if we pray, very strongly, with all of our hear, You will answer our prayers. But he never told us we would probably not understand the answer.

I still don’t.

Letters to God – Part 18: Forgive and Forget

source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/132363676520237623/

Next Sunday night, Jews all over the world will begin a new year. As usual, we will get together to eat ’till we drop, and in between meals we’ll go to the synagogue and pray. But our new year is not a year of festivals – it is actually the opposite. It’s a day of remembrance. It is our yearly opportunity to ask forgiveness for all the “bad” things we have done the past year, and ask that the year that comes be blessed with all of the best. And since we tend to be pretty bad, we have a whole 10 days to repent until the Day of Atonement where our future is signed and sealed for the next year.

Yes, God, you’re going to be very busy the next 2 weeks. With so many people calling to you, both those that talk to you every day, and those that come only once or twice a year. And we all have some much to say, so much to ask for, so much we want to forgive, so much we want to forget.

Forgiveness is a complex task. To forgive you have to forget. And there are things that you simply can’t forget. Things that no matter how much you try, are embedded in your memory and won’t let go. And they come back and remind you of the past. And you can’t forgive. No matter how much you try.

Forgiveness is also bi-directional. Most conflicts are not driven by only one of the parties involved – both of them are responsible, and because of this, both of them need to ask for forgiveness. And to forget.

And God I want to forget many seconds, minutes, hours of the last year! While my friends talk about the miracles that have happened, I think to myself (and also tell them) that I would prefer not see all these miracles, not to need them. Not that I don’t thank you for them, but still… Life has changed. Not for the good, not for the bad. I simply has changed.

There are so many moments that I want to forget and I can’t. So you can see why it is so difficult for me to forgive you. For all the pain my son has suffered. For the trauma of his three sisters, after waking up one morning to find their parents gone with their brother to the hospital, returning only a few day later, only to see their brother again a month later, unable to walk or talk. For how my wife and I can’t live a minute, a second, without thinking about that night, and how it can all return back any moment. Yes, it’s hard.

Yes God, it’s hard. But I forgive you. Because I want to forget.