On the coming Day of Atonement, we will read litanies of sins, perhaps every sin imaginable, from Alef to Tav and back again, several times.
I’m not sure how helpful that is for most of us.
Knowing our Orange County Jewish communities, I venture to speculate that the vast majority of the sins we commit are in the category of hurtful speech. Mean, demeaning, deceptive speech let fly in flashes of anger or arrogance are the bulk of our sins, and they are truly damaging but, fortunately, often reparable.
A five-minute heartfelt conversation for reconciliation or restoration will do more to repair the past than a thousand hours of litanies.
However, as we review the past year, you may find as I do that the most regrettable aspect was not a sin at all. At least not a sin of action. Most regrettable were the possibilities unfulfilled; opportunities wasted; caring withheld; actions that could have brought fulfillment to ourselves, our families, and communities, but remained in the realm of Could-Have-Been.
This Yom Kippur, we can review and consider, and briefly and productively regret the unfulfilled potentials of the past year. Then we can vividly and fruitfully survey the coming year in our minds with its openings for contribution, celebration, achievement, expression, love and fulfillment.
There is a tradition that as soon as Yom Kippur is complete, we drive the first nail to construct our Sukkot. When we have the opportunity to perform a mitzvah, we should rush to do it.
Even so, we can use the hours and days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot to “drive the nails” that will construct our futures. What can we say or do in that possibility-charged week that will move our intentions from the Realm of Dreams to the Domain of Reality?
No regrets! But if we must have regrets, let them be for what we attempted and failed rather than for what we failed to attempt.
Joshua L. Moss is a member of the Pacific Community of Cultural Jews, www.pccjews.org. He can be reached at PacifComm@aol.com.