Tuesday, September 23, 2014

#BlogElul Day 28: Give

A basic principle of the laws of property is that “matters [that are only] within the heart are of no significance” (literally: “are not matters”) (See T.B. Kiddushin 49b). If your intention is serious, if you really plan something, say it (italics mine). As long as man has not confessed, his ‘repentance’ is not considered complete. He may think in his heart: “From now on I shall observe the Sabbath, I’ll close my store at the start of the Sabbath, I shall be straight and honest in all my dealings and cheat no one, I’ll study Torah at regular and set times.” All these are commendable thoughts, but as long as they are not expressed verbally, they do not comprise an act of repentance. Confession is the climax of the process of repentance; only after confession has been made can repentance be effective… 
Thus, according to Maimonides, confession is the concretization of repentance. Speech, the verbalizing of confession, endows the thought of repentance with reality. It is the climax and final chord of the long and tortuous internal process of repentance. 
-From On Repentance: The Thought and Oral Discourses of Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik By Pinchas Peli

We think of the act of repentance as work, and in many ways, it is; if we're doing it right, if we're really turning within ourselves, turning to those around us, and turning to God, we are exhausting ourselves Spiritually, emotionally and physically. We come away from the experience transformed and, like birth, the effort leaves us drained.

But also like birth, repentance is an act of tremendous generosity. When we verbalize our intent, we are giving ourselves the chance to take our life back rather than let it stew in the sin we have committed. We are taking ourselves seriously, as capable of transformation and renewal, and not forever defined by the hurtful action or word. When we ask for forgiveness, we are giving ourselves over in humility to the person we have offended. And when we forgive, truly forgive, letting go of the offense, we release the person from the sin they have committed.

In these last moments of preparation, think and reflect of who you need to be generous with, and how you can ask for generosity for yourself. What do you need to do to make that happen?

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