Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Rosh Hashana Cometh

Self-flagellation and I are old friends. If I am calm and content, my subconscious says, "That's enough of that, now," and obligingly rustles up a memory from 2nd grade that proves what an unworthy human being I am.
Gordon Marino ponders the purpose of remorse ("What's the Use of Regret?"), a topic which is rather apropos for Rosh Chodesh Elul, no? 

"Self-forgiveness" shouldn't be encouraged, he says, for that merely removes responsibility or an incentive to improve; self-torture should not be endless, however, since we "lose faith in ourselves," and ruminate helplessly on the past without progressing into the future. 
We can learn to let things go, but before we let them go, we have to let regret get hold of us. Perhaps the old biblical formula is best — repent, ask for forgiveness with a sincere resolve to change your ways.
Ah, the old biblical formula is best! What a surprise. 
Kierkegaard observed that you don’t change God when you pray, you change yourself. Perhaps it is the same with regret. I can’t rewind and expunge my past actions, but perhaps I change who I am in my act of remorse. 
Without reflection of past sins (Viduy?), one cannot change. Isn't that what we're here for? We're here to do, initially imperfectly, then acknowledge our mess-ups and act upon that to elevate higher. 

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