Friday, September 13, 2013

Erev Yom Kippor at the Cemetery

Normally, when I go the cemetery it is just me and the construction workers. As the keep adding new sections, I sometimes wonder if I am going to have trouble finding Rachel's spot. They added in a bench with shade near her that I am now need to use as a landmark.

The parking lot was full and there were a lot of people coming and going.  People from all walks of life connected by the reality that none of us can escape. There was a kid running through the cemetery collecting for something or other. People were lighting Yizkor candles. (Note to self: I should look into if I should be following this custom, which I am not really familiar with). One of Rachel's newer neighbours had a really tall stone. The height was perfect for putting her head down and weeping. There were people with sponges and water washing the stones. It felt like I was surrounded by people who have had this ritual for who knows how long, all doing their all thing, all united in the understanding that we know what it is like to experience death.

I took care of the outstanding balance that I had withheld until the spelling mistake had been corrected. I walked in and he knew exactly how much money I owed him. He forgot his receipt book, so I ended up getting the receipt on a scrap piece of paper.

There were also tables set up. There were tables collecting tzedakah, someone selling Yahrziet candles and matches. There were at least 3 tables set up for Kaparot (2 chicken options an a non-chicken option).

Yom Kippor is going to be a lot more complicated than I would like this year. At least I have a lot to be proud of and a lot of good things to be looking forward to.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Was Your Mechila Form Letter Accepted

Rabbi Orlofsky contrasts the difference between how bochrim act on Purim and going into Yom Kippor.

On Purim the drunk bachrim at the seduah tend to be very emotional and talk about their relationship with their Rebbe, Hashem and all kinds of other stuff. They ask for forgiveness and express their love for Torah and their Rebbe. There is lots of hugging and crying and true display of emotion.

Going into Yom Kippor things tend to go along these lines:

Bachur 1: Do you forgive me?
Bachur 2: No.
Bachur 1: Do you forgive me?
Bachur 2: No.
Bachur 1: Do you forgive me?
Bachur 2: No.
Bachur 1: Ha, Ha. You didn't forgive me. You are going to hell.

I even once saw this conversation go a step further.
Bachur 2: You missed Zman Kriyat Shema. You can't daven for me to go to hell.

As you can see the Achdut is just so beautiful.

In recent years, there has been a trend to post a general request for forgiveness, placing the onus on the person that may have been hurt or offended to bring feelings of ill will to the attention of the one seeking forgiveness.

There is still a major problem. After having heart warming, sincere apology seen by 2000 of your closest Facebook and Twitter friends you have only heard responses from maybe a handful of people. How do you know much 'mechila capital' you have on your side of the scale as you stand before Hashem seeking atonement. Perhaps there are relationships that were not fixed by your form letter that you are not aware of.

I have come up with a form letter that allows the requestee to know that their request has been received.

Dear Sir/Madam,
Thank you for sending your genuine and heartfelt request for mechila. Your request had been forwarded to my lawyer for review before I can evaluate your request. Normally processing time is 7 - 10 day business days. Due to privacy concerns details of the processing and outcome of your request cannot be disclosed. Please note: The processing of a mechila request has no affect on any legal disputes. If such a dispute does exist I encourage us to work it out together (if necessary with the assistance of a Rabbi or Beit Din)

I also request (although not incumbent on you) that you agree to a reciprocal agreement where I will be forgiven for any ill will or harm that I may have caused you, with or without the knowledge of either one of us.

Should you feel that this case needs to be processed faster or requires more personal attention, please feel free to contact me directly.

Thank You
Shana Tov
Gmar Chatima Tova
Chag Kasher Sameach

Please feel free to use your own modified version of this request to help with your spiritual growth and to improve the relationships with those people who are important in your life.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What Time is It?

This morning many Israeli's woke up very confused. Over night some cell phone providers and my computer turned the clocks back. As we rely more and more on clocks that change automatically this caused a lot of confusion.

In previous years we would turn our clocks back after Shabbat Shuva. This was to appease the Haredi parties as it would allow the Yom Kippor fast to be shorter. A few years ago some Israelis realized that the fast was still the same 25 hours. They began protesting that it wasn't fair that we were on DST shorter than other countries in the world. There was even a petition to boycott changing our clocks back. There were no reports of the effect of the boycott on the protesters. In July the Government passed a law extending Daylight Savings Time until the end of October.

This presented a major challenge for cell phone companies. The cell phone networks were built in 1948 which means they can never be changed. Some cell phone providers had a work around solution by notifying their customers to set their phones to Athens time. Others decided to take the economical approach and let their customers figure out on their own. My iPhone on the Cellcom network was able to make the adjustment. Although my computer on Windows 7 did not.

It will be interesting to see what happens to all the customers who changed there phones to Athens time when it is time to move forward. Israel turns their clocks ahead on Friday March 28th, while in Athens they will move ahead on Sunday March 30th. Once again Israelis will be waking up in the morning asking what time it is.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hoping to Dip a Sweet Apple in the Honey

As Rosh HaShannah quickly approaches I look back on my thoughts going into Rosh HaShannah 2011.

I have less merits than last year, to plead to over turn the evil decree. The only thing I can ask, is that "time served" is enough punishment for my family and that we will have the strength to get back on our feet.

As much as we try to improve and grow our lives still run full circle. That is why we need to go through the whole Rosh HaShannah/Yom Kippor cycle all over again. We may been inspired to grow and improve but moving forward also means sometimes slipping backwards. We need to take another giant leap forward to once again make sure we are moving in the right direction. 

Once again, I have found my comfort in music. This time it is the Fountainheads Rosh HaShannah song from 2011.

You’ve made mistakes- you feel it  --  Definitely
You’ve got what it takes – believe it --  I am trying

So many new hopes, Waiting to find you, Open your eyes, The dreams you prize are all around you
(see below)

Make up your mind, go out and find, That simple blessing -- I did
This is your time – you feel it,  How sweet it is – believe it  -- Yes I do

Without question this was the year of the rotten apple. Apples are supposed to be sweet. Either way we still dip it in honey which is always sweet. Bittersweet is still better than bitter. (I am sure their is a connection to Haroset here). The last two Rosh Hashannahs were over shadowed by sadness and pain.  This year the pain is there.  However the clouds are starting to clear and there is actually hope.

Over the summer Channah turned back into just being a kid. I have found a platform to remember Gabi and help others through the pain of child loss. I have fought an uphill battle to put together a life for myself and Channah. Not only would Rachel be proud of me but she knew I could do it. I believe that trust allowed her to go do what she needed to do in peace.

In 3 months I will be taking the next big leap forward to move forward in my life. Peri and I compliment each other on so many levels. We will be able to build a strong marriage and family for the rest of our days. My hope is that this year all of the pieces will continue to fall into place.

Thank you to everyone who has been supportive over the past year, whether it was a big role or a small role, I really appreciate it. I hold no ill feelings towards anyone for how they acted towards me over the year.

I wish that both the apple and the honey are both sweet for you in the coming year.

Shannah Tova
Gmar Ktiva V'Chatima Tova
Chag Kasher Sameach
Whatever other blessings you are supposed to say this time of year.