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How to Forgive on the High Holidays

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The forgiveness thing is particularly tough this year, even for those of us who weren’t responsible for the Wall Street mess.

Though I don’t really understand trading, hedge funds, and what it means to buy short, I’d assumed the people involved did. That the High Holidays coincide with the astronomical bailout and the tail end of the presidential race is ironic. How much forgiving can get done in just a week? Are there different rules for red states and blue states?

Since judging comes more easily to me than forgiving, I’ve compiled an informal list of those I feel should be sitting up front at services and taking a giant share of the rap. At the top are most politicians (surely this administration), liars (categories that tend to overlap), and anyone who could have disclosed McCain’s medical records.  But they should also reserve seats in shul for online scammers, pedophiles, cheaters, environmental polluters, most building contractors, Wal-mart executives, human rights violators, credit grabbers, and athletes who take enhancing drugs.

I’m more lenient on gossipers, New Yorkers doing illegal sublets, people who make up excuses to avoid going to parties, line cutters (provided they’re behind me), schools that inflate grades, and shoppers who ship purchases to New Jersey to avoid paying sales tax. My standards are totally personal and indefensible, but it’s not critical since my list has not been picked up by anyone in the forgiving game.

This week, however much of a stretch, I’ll try to put aside judging and concentrate on my quest for forgiveness. To friends and family I may have caused pain, I apologize. It’s a time for us to renew our belief in ourselves and in one another. If prayer and ritual don’t do it, think of apples dipped in honey and brisket as a spiritual enema.


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