Categorized | Columnists, In My Mind's I

Please remember

Posted on 25 September 2014 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebToday, we pray. Next week, we’ll be readying for Yom Kippur and the recitations of Al Chait — for the sins I have sinned…

But Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, best known for his book “Jewish Literacy,” reminds us that now, in advance of standing before God to confess our sins, we might look at the good things we’ve done and “confess” our mitzvahs as well. Last year at this time, in Al Chait format, he provided us with a more positive plea:

“For the mitzvah we performed by remembering the good another had done for us, even when we were upset with him or her…For the mitzvah we performed by standing up for justice when we saw another mistreated…For the mitzvah we performed by remembering to thank and express gratitude to anyone who has helped us…For the mitzvah we performed when we heard an ambulance siren and offered a prayer to God on behalf of the sick person inside…For the mitzvah we performed by donating to charity cheerfully…For the mitzvah we performed by apologizing to a child whose feelings we had unfairly hurt…

“ALL THESE THINGS, GOD, PLEASE REMEMBER, AND PLEASE HELP INSPIRE US TO DO MORE SUCH ACTS DURING THE COMING YEAR.”

We could all make our own mitzvah lists, but Rabbi Telushkin has performed his own mitzvah by making a comprehensive one for us:

“For the mitzvah we performed by blessing our children on Shabbat…For the mitzvah we performed by returning a lost object to its owner…For the mitzvah we performed by visiting a sick person… For the mitzvah we performed by helping someone find work…For the mitzvah we performed by teaching our children Torah…For the mitzvah we performed by studying Torah ourselves…For the mitzvah we performed by hearing a negative rumor about another and refraining from passing it on…For the mitzvah we performed by refraining from snapping at the one person who has chosen to share our life — our spouse…”

Then repeat here, as above, those words reminiscent of Al Chait: “ALL THESE THINGS, GOD, PLEASE REMEMBER…”

And now, for the conclusion of Rabbi Telushkin’s list:

“For the mitzvah we performed by being compassionate, forgiving those who have hurt us and seek our forgiveness…For the mitzvah we performed by asking those whom we have hurt for forgiveness…For the mitzvah we performed by not unfairly exaggerating the bad traits of those whom we dislike…For the mitzvah we performed by interacting with non-Jews in a manner that brings credit to the Jewish people…For the mitzvah we performed by accepting responsibility for the wrongs we have committed, not blaming our bad behavior on someone else…For the mitzvah we performed by staying in close communication with elderly parents…For the mitzvah we performed by not using the words ‘always’ and ‘never’ when we are angry with another…For the mitzvah we performed by not making comments that can inflict irrevocable hurt on one with whom we are angry…

“ALL THESE THINGS, GOD, PLEASE REMEMBER, AND PLEASE HELP INSPIRE US TO DO MORE SUCH ACTS DURING THIS COMING YEAR.”

I confess to have taken some liberties with Rabbi Telushkin’s list, omitting a few items entirely, cutting out or changing words in some others. For these sins, dear readers, please forgive me; you can find “For the Mitzvah” in its entirety with a simple search on your computer. But now, I’ll take one further liberty by adding something of my own:

For the mitzvah I have tried to perform by taking all things that life has handed me during this past year and doing the best I could with them…This, God, please remember, and please help inspire me to do more of this in the year to come.

My promise for 5775: To read the newest of Rabbi Telushkin’s many books: “Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History.”

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