To be honest, I don't usually "learn" something new during the High Holidays. I am inspired, sure...but new concepts or ideas to challenge the ongoing, regular concept for this season, not usually. This year, though, the brothers, whom I will call here "the brothas" each brought a teaching to me this holiday season.
The first brotha is Rabbi Carnie Rose. For years, I viewed this time between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur as a time to refocus my aim in those areas that I missed the mark. In the last few years, due to Rabbi Rose's teachings, I have really latched on to this concept of uncovering to reveal my true self. I still identify with and gather a lot of inspiration from the imagery of both of those.
This year, though, I had the pleasure of learning with Rabbi Rose, and he taught another concept -- one based on three texts/stories. (Sorry Carnie if I am butchering this!) The basics of it had to do with what it actually means when you forgive someone (or yourself). It isn't not holding a grudge, it isn't to make the party feel better or even to grant them a pardon. What the challenge is -- to view that person as a NEW person. And for oneself? To view oneself as a NEW person. It is the deep belief that the person (or oneself) is a new and different person. With ones words, actions, being...and with full confidence in that person (or oneself) that s/he is able to be a new person.
Most revolutionary is the concept that when doing this, if the person did the exact same thing, because you believe and have confidence that this person is a new person, then it is as if s/he has done that for the first time. No pulling out the laundry list of all the times this has happened before. Magical! Mystical! Possible? I don't know! I am going to do this for the New Year...for Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, the 10 day between and for the year 5772...
The otha brotha (sorry, had to rhyme it), Rabbi Or Rose, taught through a story about a rebbe who referred his pupil to visit the local innkeeper so see how he shlug kapores to really learn from it as opposed to him watching the rebbe himself. There are a lot of dimensions to the story, but ultimately one thing I got out of it was this: Just as I "forgive" myself and others, so too every year, I must do the same for G-d's "sins." All the injustices, wrongs, disasters...I cannot hold on to them year after year, building blame and distancing myself further from Divinity.
Some thoughts...if I apply both teachings together, does this mean I see G-d as a new Divine, with confidence and faith? As Rob asked in our chavruta study, does G-d's sin list look the same every year and if so, what does that do to the "new" concept? Am I capable of seeing each person as a new person, and able to move forward in full confidence in them and with them that they are a changed person (and not re-make the laundry list)? Do I cry over my minor sins (those repeat personality defects that come out in the course of daily living) before I swing them above my head and throw them into the fire? Am I functioning in the world as the new person I am - that I want to be - that I am capable of being? Do I instill in others my confidence in them to be new people? Am I keeping a detailed list for myself and G-d...and how can I do that in an intimate and loving way?
Looking back over my blog entry from 2010,Yom Kippur 2010, I see all the teachings I have learned. I improved in so many areas but still, there are areas that I missed the mark. I have uncovered parts of me, revealed the real me-the divine spark in me, but I am not completely uncovered. For this year, I will approach these failings differently, by forgiving myself for not having fully lived up to my potential this past year and proceeding as a new person.
My Mantra for 5772: I will walk forward in new ways that exhibit the new me and I will see others for the new them that they are/can be.