Tuesday, September 11, 2012

#BlogElul 24: Giving

I had planned to write this post about tzedakah, the Jewish value of giving charity.

But then I read a quote this week that said "Forgiving is for giving - it is a gift you give to yourself."

And I started to think about that. We spend so much time during our High Holy Day preparation looking inward and accounting our own sins and deeds. And we are required to make amends and say that we are sorry for the things we have done badly in the past year. But I think that we spend less time on how to  actually grant that forgiveness. Now, I realize that tomorrow's topic is forgiveness, but bear with me.

Is forgiveness actually a gift that we give to ourselves? Is it really more true that the one granting the forgiveness gains much more than the one who is begging it?

Forgiveness is, perhaps, the ultimate in giving - it is a gift to ourselves. We are giving ourselves the opportunity to live free of a grudge. We are giving ourselves the gift of a clean slate. We are giving ourselves the gift of letting go of the past, and the gift of creating a new and different future, one in which we have control over our own ability to let others define who we are and how we behave.

When assigning the themes of teshuvah and tzedakah, repentance and holy giving, to the High Holy Days, perhaps our wise ancestors were actually teaching us something about the nature of forgiveness - that in fact, the very act of granting forgiveness is the holiest act of giving...to ourselves.

The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. It offers a chance for spiritual preparation for the Days of Awe. It is traditional to begin one’s preparation for the High Holy Days during this month with the Selichot, the prayers of forgiveness. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... I will be blogging here, and sharing #Elulgram photos on the same themes at imabima.tumblr.com. Follow me on twitter @imabima for all the #BlogElul posts, not only mine but others' as well! 

Leave your blog Elul post in the linky below!

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