Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Friday, October 14, 2005

Synchronous Forgiveness

I planned a post today entitled "Forgiven", to share the experience I had yesterday on Yom Kippur in terms of feeling the need to forgive God. But this morning, I note that Robert Avrech, who shares - and writes about - the same heartbreak, posted much the same thoughts right before the holiday - and even under a similar title. I won't call it "great minds thinking alike", it's more like tragic losses leading to similar issues. Unfortunately, I also learned from Robert's post that this struggle isn't unique to one's first Yom Kippur following the loss.

Thirteen years ago, I went through a Yom Kippur somewhat akin to this one. Our youngest son, Shalom, who was just 13 months old at the time, was plagued with serious breathing difficulties and had a trach tube. We lived with 24-hour a day nurses in the house, and medical crises were a regular occurrence. This began when he was seven months old and continued until 21 months, so that Yom Kippur was right in the thick of things. And in that same time period, we had other medical concerns with our second son. (Yes, ironically Aaron was the only child we weren't worried about that fall.)

Come Yom Kippur, I felt totally distraught and overwhelmed. Each year during Ne'ila [the concluding service], I generally plan specific self-improvement tasks, as well as take inventory of everyone I know to make sure I have forgiven them, and thereby hope/pray that I will be forgiven as well. That year, I remember having no heart for that arduous process. Instead, I simply said: "Tell you what, God. I'll forgive you, and you forgive me."

My experience this year was not quite the same. Like Robert, I am still struggling with even being able to accept, let alone forgive, my son's loss. So ironically, I actually did find myself able to work through my standard litany of repentance and of forgiveness for others, while putting the issue of "forgiving God" off to the side. It seems it will take me much longer than one Ne'ila service (no matter how much the chazzan tries to extend it!) to work through that one. Perhaps a lifetime. Fortunately, 1000 years is but an instant to God, and when I'm ready to deal with this, I'm sure He will be too.


At 10/14/05, 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Yosl Rakover Talks to God, by Zvi Kolitz,is a book you might want to read on the topic of being angry with God. For many years it was thought to be written by an actual Warsaw Ghetto survivor but it is actually a work of fiction. It is one of my favorite books of all time.

Excerpt from the Amazon Review . Yosl Rakover cherishes the story of a Jew who escaped the Spanish Inquisition and prayed: "I will always believe in You. I will love You always and forever--even despite you." Many readers will cherish Yosl Rakover Talks to God in a similar way.


At 10/14/05, 1:40 PM, Blogger benros52589 said...

no wonder y u were crying during neila feel better dad


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