Thursday, August 12, 2010
The Elul Challenge - Day 2
Inspired by my colleague and dear friend Rabbi Phyllis Sommer Thoughts from Rabbi Phyllis, I am going to attempt to blog each day of Elul challenging myself and hopefully you as well to fully engage in this profound time of year. Of course the irony is, I am writing this on the second day of Elul, oh well.
Elul for those of you who are not familiar, is the month immediately preceding Tishrei which contains the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Elul is a time of ritual return to God including the practice of sounding the shofar daily along with the recitation of certain psalms and seeking forgiveness from those we have wronged either accidentally or intentionally.
This month I encourage you to watch the excellent and thought provoking documentary: Forgiving Dr. Mengele. It is a movie about Eva Mozes Kor, a survivor of Mengele’s horrific twin studies, who decides of her own volition, to forgive those perpetrators (may their names be wiped out), as a way of enabling herself to heal. In this sense the documentary gets to the heart of what does it really mean to forgive by asking if we have to forgive at all, and are there some crimes so horrendous they need never be forgiven.
There is also a whole section on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but we’ll save that for a blog for another day.
You may not agree with Eva’s choices, but it may inspire you to reflect on whether or not there are some old hurts in your life you are still nursing simply because they keep you warm at night, but no longer remember even their origins.
As this movie teaches, forgiveness is less about those who have committed wrongs than about those who have been wronged. Holding on to the pain and anger did not better Eva’s life. She certainly did not excuse what happened, but she has found as sense of peace through this process.