The forgiveness thing, never easy, is particularly tough this year. Though I don't really understand trading or hedge funds, I'd assumed the people involved do. That the High Holidays coincide with this astronomical economic disaster and the tail end of the presidential race is ironic. Shuls should be packed to overflow, but if crash diets don't work, how can a week of atoning be enough to cover an entire year of screwing up?
Since judging comes more easily to me than forgiving, I've compiled an informal list of those I feel should be sitting up front at services and taking a giant share of the rap. At the top are most politicians (surely this administration), liars (categories that tend to overlap) and anyone who could have disclosed McCain's medical records. But they should also tape off rows in shul for online scammers, pedophiles, environmental polluters, cheaters (even if a wife is in remission), most building contractors, Wal-mart executives, human rights violators, credit grabbers and athletes who take performance enhancing drugs.
I'm more tolerant with what I consider the minor transgressions, including gossiping, subletting illegally, making up excuses to avoid going to parties, line cutting (provided they're behind me), schools inflating grades, food companies lying about calorie count and shipping purchases to New Jersey to avoid paying sales tax. My standards are totally personal and indefensible, but it's not critical since my list has not been picked up by anyone in the forgiving game.
This week I'll try to put aside judging and concentrate on my quest for forgiveness. To friends and family I may have caused pain, I apologize. It's a time to renew our belief in ourselves and in one another. If it was never there, maybe there's a way to create it? For those who don't relate to prayer, think of apples dipped in honey and brisket as a spiritual enema.
Feel free to add your own list of offenses and remember to start writing "5769" on your checks. L'shana tova!