So Camp Gilgal family, as of Sunday night we’re in the year 5777 and tonight is the first shabbat of the new year.
Rosh Hashanah (the feast of trumpets or literally the Head of the Year) began Sunday night (October 2nd) and then here in NYC, schools were closed Monday and Tuesday in observance of the holiday. Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) begins next Tuesday Night (October 11th) and ends the following evening (October 12th). Between these holidays are ten days that are called “the Days of Awe.” These days, both in services and outside of them, encourage and charge us to pay attention, to reflect, and to make things right.
There are a couple of things built into the season that help us to engage with the idea of repentance. One of them is something called tashlich (more here) where as a community or as individuals we go to a body of water and throw the crumbs from our pockets, stale bread, or even small pebbles away–symbolically casting our sins into the “heart of the sea”(Micah 7:19). The other is the al chet and occurs during Yom Kippur services.
The Al Chet goes through a pattern of “for the sin we have committed against you by _______, for the sin we have committed against you by________, “and fills in the blank with things from every letter of the alphabet and then the leader responds with “For all these O God of forgiveness, pardon us, forgiveness, and grant us atonement.” The thing that the Al Chet does (for more click here) that I really appreciate is that it is specific about areas of misstep, failure to act, and straight up unkindness that I know occur in my heart and in my actions.
When we’re kids there are always things that we’re being reminded/instructed to apologize for, but as adults it feels like I hear “sorry” being used far more often in a “sorry not sorry” context than in actual apology. Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” says the word a bunch of times but never actually apologizes. That kind of “sorry” is really easy to give and really meaningless to receive. What the al chet does for me is it reminds me that I am more in need of forgiveness from God that I realize, and that his forgiveness has already been poured out on me because of Yeshua. I am known, loved, and forgiven already-regardless of what I confess to God, from the al chet or otherwise. 1 John 1:9 says that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”
Sorry not sorry isn’t confession. It acknowledges that the other person feels wronged, but the offending party doesn’t take responsibility. I think this is a great time of year to consider who we owe an apology to and in many cases, who we have been withholding forgiveness from.
Shana Tova Camp Gilgal!
More on views of forgiveness here