Next year in Jerusalem

            “Sorry, Mommy,” he offers. 

            “I know, baby, but you have a two-minute time-out.”

            “I’m sorry, Mommy,” he tries again.  But he is not.  He is not sorry the way I am sorry.  If he were sorry like a grown-up, he wouldn’t do it again.  If he meant the word the way I mean the word, he would never again spit or bite or push.

            But, of course, he is two, and two-year-olds only understand that they are sorry they got into trouble.  Hopefully, the word will be followed by the emotion, but it will most likely be years before he feels any real compunction. 

            I, on the other hand, am careful with my apologies.  I only make them if I mean them, if I will try to never again repeat the action.  That is why I never apologized to certain members of my family.  I was sorry they were hurt, but I couldn’t promise that I would never again voice the truth.  I was not sorry like an adult, and I refused to apologize like a two-year-old.

            I think of this now as I write my Yom Kippur post (writing it on Yom Kippur to post next week because I am just a little behind these days).  On Yom Kippur, we are meant to repent our sins, yet this year all I feel is gratitude for how much happier we are this year than last.  We are not in London anymore, we have a new and unplanned member of the family, and I feel like I have begun to hit my stride as a writer (although not as a published writer).  I even feel gratitude for the things that frustrated me last year, such as the chance to live in London for two years.

            But, because I am an obedient Jew, I am trying to muster up some sense of repentance.  I could be a better mother, a better wife, a better friend, I suppose, but that would require a fundamental personality shift, so it’s hard to be too remorseful about those things.  I could give more to my community, for certain, but it isn’t going to happen when I would need to hire childcare just to volunteer.  It will need to wait a year or two. 

            These are not excuses.  A year or two ago, they would have been.  But now I have come to a place where I give as much as I can and then forgive myself the remainder.  In return, I am growing and actually able to give more.  And, so, on this Day of Atonement, I find myself stronger and better than I have ever found myself before.  Instead of Atoning this year, I instead ask myself to keep on growing and learning and appreciating.

            And next year in Jerusalem – next year may all live in peace.

11 responses to “Next year in Jerusalem

  1. I am not Jewish. My children went to a Jewish daycare and preschool. I learned alot about Judaism during those 6 years. I love Yom Kippur. It’s a beautiful thing. But the thing about it, just as with any activity where you ask for forgiveness, you must mean it. I liken it to Catholic confession. I’m not Catholic either. I’m really nothing. But the idea of day where you reflect in this manner just seems so beautiful to me. For this reason I love Thanksgiving too. I like to reflect on everything I have that is so good in my life, just as you did while trying to find some repentance.

  2. Peace, it sounds like you are on your way to attaining personal peace. May peace spread.

  3. I like that way of looking at it. I’ve had a difficult time forgiving myself this year — but looking at in terms of learning & growth… I think I can get my mind around that.

  4. Yes, yes, yes! This sounds like a good and healthy – life-affirming – way of thinking!


  5. I like this. I try and apologize for the way I’ve said things, if I’ve hurt someone. But I rarely say something that I didn’t mean to say.

    And yay for you, for continuing to grow and learn. I figure that is the best thing you can do; for yourself and for your children.

  6. love this. I am happy for you.

  7. Beautiful, Emily. I love the line about forgiving yourself for the remainder. I’m learning that, too, and it feels really good and freeing.

  8. this gave me chills

  9. I’d quite like to hear one or two bankers saying sorry at the moment, and I don’t think they are able to say sorry like an adult either. I think they’d do it all again tomorrow if they could (and they probably will). In the scheme of things I don’t think you have so very much to repent so I think your attitude is perfect – do what you can and embrace the remainder. Being grateful for what you have seems to me to be every bit as important.

  10. Doesn’t repentance just mean that we’re not stopping in the worst place we find ourselves? We give up on pride long enough to accept change or correction?
    Happy or repentant or holy (but certainly belated) Yom Kippur.

  11. it sounds like you’ve had a year of atoning, instead of a day – atoning (can that be used as a verb?) as you go along, rather than storing up all that guilt for a year. sounds just right to me