So, it's been some time since I posted last. I think part of the reason is that I've had someone to tell many of my thoughts to, which is no longer the case, and that I spend most of my time working on my computer, which is still the case.
I recently went through another year of High Holidays, but I had quite the predicament this time around. For the uninitiated, the High Holidays are Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur. Of course, Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, but it is really just to atone for your sins against G-d. There are ten days between the two holidays that are really meant to atone for your sins against other people, but apologizing for having wronged them.
One of my favorite stories (which I remember vaguely from when I heard it) about Yom Kippur is about a two men who go to visit their rabbi in preparation for Yom Kippur. The first one says to the rabbi, "Rabbi, I have done an absolutely awful sin this year. I have done something absolutely terrible and I need to know how I can ever get the Almighty's forgiveness."
The rabbi responded by telling the man, "Go out into the courtyard and find the largest stone you can find. Then carry it back here."
Confused, the man did as the rabbi asked and found an enormous stone that he brought to the rabbi. Upon his return, the rabbi told the exhausted man, "Now, place the stone back where you found it, exactly as you found it."
Again confused, the man did exactly as the rabbi asked. He carried the stone to the place that he remembered it being and placed it in the position that he thought it was in when he took it.
After doing so, the man returned to the rabbi and the rabbi told him, "Deeply, sincerely ask the Almighty for his forgiveness for your terrible sin and I'm sure He will forgive you."
Soon thereafter, another man came to visit the rabbi and said, "Rabbi, I really don't think I've done much wrong this year and I don't really know what to ask G-d to forgive me for this year. So I'm not quite sure what I should do on Yom Kippur."
The rabbi tells the man, "Go into the courtyard and find as many small stones as you can carry. Collect them and bring them back here."
Confused, the man does as the rabbi asked. After a while, the man returns to the rabbi, barely able to keep all of the stones that he collected in his hands. The rabbi then tells him, "Put all those stones back where you found them, exactly as you found them."
The man, shocked, replies, "Rabbi, there's no way I can do that! There are so many that were all over the courtyard! I have no idea where I found them and where I need to put them back!"
The rabbi replied, "This is what you need to learn about Yom Kippur. You have collected small sins all year and this is the day that you fix them and put things back as they should be with G-d. If you cannot remember your sins, then you have all the more reason to ask for forgiveness for engaging in them because they are so numerous that you cannot even be honest with G-d about what they are."
I've always loved that story because it reminded me that Yom Kippur is really a time to ask for forgiveness for things you know you've done wrong and for things that you can't even remember.
However, the story doesn't answer one important question that I've had this year. What happens if you have a rock that is incredibly big to you and you know where to put it, but you just can't carry it back to where it belongs? What if you think struggling to put the rock back will be more painful than moving it in the first place?
I guess I'll have to look for another story to answer those questions...