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DON’T PROCRASTINATE FORGIVENESS

One of the ways we get ready for Rosh Hashanah is with the saying of selichos.  Starting with the early 1 a.m. selichos last motzoei Shabbos and then the challenging early morning selichoses, our minds are preoccupied with asking Hashem for selichah, forgiveness.  It’s ironic that while we are busy cramming in as many petitions for forgiveness as possible between us and Hashem before Rosh Hashanah, we postpone asking for forgiveness from our fellow man until erev Yom Kippur.  I’ve always thought that this was a mistake.  Why wait for our decree to be sealed and then have to ask for an appeal because we were judged harshly for our poor behavior with a spouse, a parent, a child, a sibling, a neighbor, a colleague, when we could have corrected the matter beforehand by asking for forgiveness during the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah?

I can only surmise that the custom of putting it off until Yom Kippur is because, the specter of Yom Kippur and the finality of it gives a person a better chance of having his request for forgiveness answered in a favorable vein.  But, why not try before Rosh Hashanah?  If you fail, you can ask again before Yom Kippur.  I remember how Rav Avigdor Miller, Zt”l, Zy”a, would vigorously recommend that one ask for forgiveness from their spouse before Yom Kippur.  He would say that once granted it would change a person’s life for the better for the upcoming year.  So let’s do it already before Rosh Hashanah and remember, if you want Hashem to forgive you, make sure to be forgiving to your loved ones. 

It is also a good time to think about those people that you haven’t gotten along with for years.  They don’t speak to you and you don’t give them the time of day.  In Avos D’Rabbi Nosson, it says, “Azehu gibor?  Ha’ose misono ohavo – Who is mighty?  He who makes out of an enemy a friend.”  So let’s flex our muscles and be the mighty one.  Let’s bite the bullet and strike up a conversation with someone we haven’t spoken with in decades.  When Hashem sees that we’ve gone into overdrive in the forgiving mode, He will in turn activate Divine forgiveness in our behalf.   Such forgiveness promises all kinds of blessings for the year 5778.

When thinking about the business of mechilah, forgiveness, we should remember that the Gemora teaches us that even the holy day of Yom Kippur itself does not atone for sins between us and our fellow man unless we ask for forgiveness from the one we have wronged.  Since there are many, many people who don’t have the personal courage to ask for forgiveness, we should take a step forward for the benefit of mankind to say meaningfully before Rosh Hashanah that we forgive anyone who has wronged us and we don’t want anyone to be punished because of us.  By doing this, who knows how many people we will save from suffering during the upcoming year?  With this meaningful mechilah declaration, we might spare someone from breaking and arm or a leg, losing a job, or getting an illness.  Hashem will take note of our kind intentions and treat us accordingly.

May we all have the strength and the wisdom to voice such a blanket mechilah, and in that merit may we all be blessed with ksiva v’chasima tova u’masuka, may we be written and sealed for a good and sweet year.

To my dear readers, thank you for another year of allowing me to be marbetz Torah.  Special appreciation to my editor Sheldon Zeitlin for another year of wonderful articles, to Alan Hirsch of The Vues and his editing staff, and to The Vues and Country Vues  itself for giving me the vehicle to reach masses of our wonderful.  May Hashem bless us all with the very best of years and the coming of Moshiach tzidkeinu, speedily in our days.

Please learn and daven for the refuah sheleima of Miriam Liba bas Devorah, b’soch shaar cholei Yisroel.