• Home
  • Parashah
  • Ask the Rabbi
  • Festivals
  • Freemasonry
  • Articles
  • About
  • Books
  • Media

    The same thing as last year

    During the Ten Days of Penitence we all take down from the shelves the Yom Kippur Machzorim which we use every year.

    Even the least adept at Hebrew knows by now where to find the key elements of the services, especially the confession of sinsAshamnu Bagadnu Gazalnu (the short form of confession), and Al Chet Shechatanu Lefanecha (the long form).

    Few of us actually seem to wonder why the words we say are exactly the same as last year and all the years before that.

    A Chassidic rebbe was asked this question.

    “Why do we beat our breast every Yom Kippur and confess the identical sins, and expect to do the same next year too?”

    The rebbe took the questioner over to the window. “Do you see the little child playing in the garden?” he asked.

    “He is my grandson. He is just learning to walk. He stands up and then falls over. Finally he will learn how to stand up properly and how to walk without falling. In the meantime he cries and his parents come running. Eventually he will manage on his own!”

    So it is with us. Every year we read the same list of sins, but each time is different. Each time we ought to ask ourselves what progress we have made since last year.

    If last year we confessed offences against justice, truth and peace, have we improved in the last twelve months?

    In time we will presumably almost succeed in reaching our ideals – but in the meantime we need an annual reminder, an annual audit… and when we weep at the thought of how many shortcomings we still have, we need God our Heavenly Parent to come to our aid and encourage us to keep trying.

    Comments are closed.