Some say that the words “I’m sorry” are the hardest words to say — there is even a children’s book about how hard the phrase is. But what about the words “I forgive”? Often hard to say and harder to mean! The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are days to apologize to those we have hurt. We are also supposed to forgive.
Among the many things that I start the day reading on my computer is a message from dailygood.org. A recent post by Brooke Deterline, syndicated from Greater Good, was titled The Power of Forgiveness at Work. We know the positive impact of forgiveness on relationships but new research is looking at conflict among colleagues — especially important as more people spend more time in the workplace than at home! The research is not surprising — a lack of forgiveness affects the individuals involved and the organization! Here are the steps recommended:
Model forgiveness, particularly if you are a leader!
Apologize and attempt to make restitution — take responsibility for mistakes.
Rebuild trust by working on a common task — new experiences!
Conduct interventions — bring in a third party.
The article ends with an old saying (attributed to everyone from Buddha to Carrie Fisher): “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Holding a grudge at work is sharing the poison with your colleagues. The High Holidays offer us an opportunity to bring this up at work, even if you don’t work in a Jewish organization or a place with many Jewish co-workers. Begin by explaining the holiday and traditions and move from apples, honey and the days off from work to the real message of the season that you can bring to your workplace!
We see that we have two tasks before us — asking for forgiveness and giving forgiveness. In the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we are to go to others — what about also forgiving ourselves during that time? What are the things in which we may have hurt ourselves, either with intention or without?
Can we forgive ourselves for our mistakes and our real or perceived failings? Finally on Yom Kippur, we stand before God and apologize both as a community and as individuals. This can happen only after we have made peace with each other and ourselves. And one last question: do we need to forgive God?
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady,
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.