Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I’ve had a pretty tough year. I had health challenges that left me
debilitated, lost a beloved parent and a beloved dog, and had the
company where I’ve worked for twenty years skate perilously close to
the edge of bankruptcy. I’m feeling fragile and shaken and not very
secure in any sector of my life How can I use what’s left of the High
Holidays to set a firmer footing to go forward?
Much of the discussion about Yom Kippur is about interpersonal
relations: asking for and offering forgiveness for slights real and
imagined. It’s a chance to clear the air and enter the New Year with an
emotional sense of solidity. It won’t cure your work or health
problems, but it should make you feel as though your friendships are
intact. So do that and know you have friends.
Another way to think about atonement is internal. Think back a year
and see what gives you a pang, a sense of regret, even a caught
breath, a feeling that if you had a chance you would take what golfers
call a “mulligan” and kids call a “do-over.” Yom Kippur is a chance to
forgive yourself and move on. You might wish you’d done things
differently. Next year you should take every chance to do exactly that
in similar situations. But for now, clear your soul.
Go back and clean up whatever messes accrued in your wake. That
may mean conversations with bosses or co-workers, children or
partner. Then change how you talk to yourself about whatever
happened. And also how you talk to other people, from your doctor to
your next beloved pet. Nothing lasts forever, even grief and sadness.
A lot has to do with your attitude. Resolve to write a new, better, and
different story for the next year.