The first day of 5783, the new Jewish year, dawns after a night of plentiful rain. The garden is looking very lush after its long, refreshing drink. Tomorrow we join a group of old friends for lunch and a walk to the river to symbolically throw away our sins, our bad thoughts, our hurtful deeds, the times we gave in to our baser impulses. Thoughts percolate in my head as every year at this time, maybe more so today than most years.
Today is the first of the Ten Days of Repentance, a traditional time of introspection for Jews, a period when we are supposed to make amends, let go of hurt and anger and repay debts. In my experience, few people have much use for introspection. It’s not hard to understand why. It makes people feel like shit to spend too much time thinking about their real motivations, confronting the demons that make them act with (justifiable) brutality toward others. We would rather feel right, just and loving than wrong, unfair and punitive. If you think I’m wrong, unfair and punitive I’ll show you who’s fucking wrong, unfair and punitive!
Some people pray at this time of year. I’m with Ricky Gervais on this: pray, by all means, it’s fine, but do not cancel the chemotherapy. Prayer is between you and God, if you have that kind of relationship, have a deep, prayerful talk with your Maker. Not for me, though. Prayer does nothing for me. If I talk to God at all it’s as an equal, made in the All-Merciful’s image, as we all are.
The arrogance of humans can be seen in a hundred variations, in every direction. If you are ashamed, crush whoever makes you feel ashamed. If you have hurt somebody, it’s their fucking fault for being an asshole. If you are caught in a criminal act, blame others, wail about being persecuted by ruthlessly unfair enemies.
Religion can ordain certain actions, but it cannot cause a greater truth to enter the heart unless people allow it to. We surrender our own will to a higher will and feel righteous doing so, some of us. Others try to live a life of fairness, expecting no more of others than we ourselves are capable of. Then we will have a war, where both sides fervently believe God has our backs during the righteous slaughter. Pathetic earthlings.
Best to you all for a happy, healthy, sweet 5783. May it be much better, in every way, than 5782.