Friday, October 7, 2011

The 2 (&1/2) Most Powerful Words and A Bonus.

Tonight, as the sun sets in each time zone, the worldwide Jewish community begins the celebration of the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is a sunset to sunset full fast (no food or drink). The theme(s) of Yom Kippur include introspection, reflection and penitence. Communal worship is longer than normal in homage to the holiday themes and besides, no one has a meal waiting for them until the holiday concludes tomorrow night. The Yom Kippur liturgy teaches multiple powerful lessons, I will concentrate on just two.
source: morgueFile

Conciliation With The Congregation.
Communal prayer is organized to address certain themes and assist the not-as-articulate in finding the right note. In conjunction with the Yom Kippur theme of penitence, the prayers include a (long) laundry list of Transgressions/Oversights/Deficiencies/Offenses/Sins (to-dos). Within the to-do list I find two very interesting points:
  1. All of the to-dos are written in the plural (We did, not I did).
  2. During communal prayer, everybody recite the whole to-do list. It's not pick 5 to-dos or raise your hand for the to-dos that apply. Everybody owns each and every to-do.
I'm Sorry.
The lesson of number 2: Do not underestimate the power of the words I'm Sorry. "I'm sorry" are the two (and a half) most powerful words we have. When someone feels wronged the best way to start is "I'm sorry". The Yom Kippur liturgy teaches to say "I'm sorry" even if don't think you did anything wrong. Saying "I'm sorry" is neither placating nor should "I'm sorry" be used to patronize. "I'm sorry" indicates acknowledgement that another party feels injured. "I'm sorry" is the best way to begin a conversation that leads to reconciliation.
I Didn't Do It Alone.
The lesson of number 1: The liturgy has the to-do's completely in plural. I think the intention is "safety in numbers"; It's easier to claim a shortcoming when you believe you're not the only one making the mistake.  I think there is even a stronger concept at play. When you feel harmed by another, what responsibility do you have in the action that harmed you? Lawyers call this the responsibility to mitigate damages. I consider this (all to-dos plural) the maturity to understand that life doesn't happen in a vacuum. When Little Susie often complains that Mario hit her (my 2 kids). I remind Little Susie that Mario shouldn't hit, but if you didn't tease Mario, maybe he wouldn't hit you. Such is the case with many things that happens to us.

In conjunction with my own personal celebration, I will be unplugged from Friday late afternoon through Sunday Morning. (We're going to my in-laws for the post Yom Kippur meal). Any and all comments (always welcome) will receive a response after Sunday A.M. Have a great weekend.