Blog Post


Yom Kippur Plan B

Yom Kippur Plan B

I‘m a little uneasy
And there ain’t much pride inside me
She don’t know how it hurts
And I’m telling you
It’s too late now, she’s just not the same
It’s too late now, it’s a crying shame    
                                               -Gordon Lightfoot
As we approach Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the issue of Teshuva is foremost on our minds. Teshuvais often translated as Repentance, but in truth it means Return. Return to what we know is true and good. Return to what we intuitively know is meaningful for our soul, and ultimately returning to God.
King Solomon writes,  כִּי אָדָם אֵין צַדִּיק בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה טּוֹב וְלֹא יֶחֱטָא”Among man, there is no such thing as a completely righteous person in the land, who does only good and never sins” for everyone does wrong at some time or another. We have faults and do not live up to our potential on many levels. The question is what can we do to rectify the wrongs we have done, and how much can they indeed be fixed?

According to Jewish tradition, there are certain key components necessary in the process of teshuva. There must be (a) regret of the wrong, (b) a verbal confession and (c) a commitment to discontinue the erroneous behavior.

But even with all these elements, the issue still persists: What exactly are we trying to accomplish? Is this some sort of magical formula to assuage our guilt? Can we ever go back to what it was like before the error? Can we regain the purity or “paradise lost” after the sin? For example, if a person steals, will that person ever be the same as if they never stole in the first place? If one was unfaithful to one’s spouse, will the relationship ever be the same… can it ever be the same? 

To be clear, some mistakes are indeed minor in the larger scheme of things. For those, we may very well get back to our original place. If someone stole a towel from a hotel, you can send it back or maybe financially reimburse the company (I recall a guy in my yeshiva days who did just that). After feeling the necessary sense of shame, you can pretty much forget about it, if you indeed make a solid commitment not to do it again. It was a slight lapse and was easily rectified.

On the other hand, there are some actions that make an indelible mark on us forever. They alter the course of our life, sending it into a completely new direction than we ever anticipated. The unfaithful spouse, or the husband who hit his wife did indeed change the relationship forever. No matter how much regret and apologizing he or she may do, no matter how many promises never to do it again, the relationship will never be the same. This is a simple fact of life.

In these circumstances the goal is not to attempt to retrieve what once was because that is forever gone. No, the goal must now be to rebuild an alternative scenario of what could be. There is a reconstruction process given the new reality created from the repercussions of the wrongful act. There has to be a Plan B now that the original structure has been broken.

Now that may sound like a downer but don’t get depressed because we all live with all sorts of Plan B’s in our lives.  And the fact of the matter is that most of history is dominated by Plan B. Adam and Eve were to have lived eternally in the Garden of Eden but they did not listen to God’s command not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge and were thrown out. Plan B has been in effect ever since. The Jewish People were supposed to have entered into the Land of Israel soon after receiving the Torah at Sinai, but instead wandered for forty years – not the Plan A that God had in mind. There was not supposed to be the destruction of our Temples and Jerusalem falling into foreign hands. The Jewish nation was not supposed to be scattered to the four corners of the globe, but this is what happened in our history and in some ways we are all the better for it.

All of us have our failings. Things did not turn out the way we thought they would for each and every one of us. We all live with disappointments, missed opportunities and foolish choices. On the other hand – equally, and maybe even moreso – new paths have opened up from Plan B’s that have given us gifts we could never have anticipated. So while our lives went down alleyways that we never expected, at the same time we are in positive places in life that we could never have imagined.
Yom Kippur offers us the opportunity to put everything else aside, even eating and drinking, and to look at our lives, see where we erred, regret our actions, commit not to repeat them and more: To reassess and do the best we can with the new realities of the Plan B’s in our lives.  
It is a wonderful thing that God built into the fabric of Creation where He lets us enjoy life and realize our potential – even the alternative potentials that we have created for ourselves or that have been created for us in ways that we would never have thought.  
What was Plan A supposed to be? I don’t know and frankly, I don’t even care. Because no matter what we have done, no matter what “sins” we have committed, and no matter how others may have affected us in ways we would not choose or want, an Infinite God has created a world with Infinite possibilities – a myriad of scenarios that offer infinite good, endless pleasure and deep meaning. Yom Kippur gives us the chance to never lose sight of that.  
Anytime is the right time
To get on with a new tomorrow
May you and yours be inscribed for a happy, healthy and successful year filled with blessings and Peace for Israel – the people and the state – and for all.    

You are donating to : Greennature Foundation

How much would you like to donate?
$10 $20 $30
Would you like to make regular donations? I would like to make donation(s)
How many times would you like this to recur? (including this payment) *
Name *
Last Name *
Email *
Additional Note