It is now the beginning of the New Year if you are Jewish. In reality I celebrate two New Years one Jewish, and then one Christian, January 1st. I really don’t’ celebrate the Christian New Year as much. I just drink, eat, and watch football games, as a light is dropped in front of a million stupid people freezing their collective tushes off in Times Square NYC.
The Jewish New Year is a time for reflection. We as Jews are supposed to think about our sins that we have made in the past year. One of the traditions is that we throw bread into the water to cast off our sins. It is called Tashlich .The confession prayer where we admit our sins, is called Al Chet. I started to look at the sins that I have to repent for. When I told my wife that I was going to write about my sins in the past year, she said that it would be larger than war and peace. I am not overly religious, I am a “reformed conservadox” meaning that I love all facets of Judaism but have not really settled on one. In other words I am confused.
I am not a Talmudic scholar so I am warning you if you read this that I will make mistakes (does that count as a sin). I have lots of questions as well.
1. When is the last day that we can sin? Like any good accountant I would like to know the following. Can we throw some sins into the next year or does it all count for this year? Does this conform to GAP or Gods approved procedures?
2. If I am thinking about a potential sin this year do I count it when I am thinking about it, or when, or if I actually commit it? This would involve commentary on the current administration.
3. Are we given a certain allowance for percentage of sins that we commit to get into the book or is it just “pass, fail”?
4. How does God “grade” these, are they on a community curve? If so did Bernie Madoff lower the curve for all of us?
I have been reading up on some of the sins that we have to watch out for, and I have come to the conclusion that it isn’t easy being a Jew. For that reason alone I cannot list all of the sins here, so I will take out some highlights that I need to address during services. These are direct quotes from the prayer book that I need some clarification on.
1. For the sin, which we have committed before you, under duress or willingly:
Does this mean that the speeding tickets that I got would fall under this? If so I plead guilty. Duress is also in the eyes of the beholder. I am often late everywhere, it is a problem believe me, so I have to weigh speeding to get there, or risk the wrath of my wife, or friends, who will torture me because of my lateness.
2. And for the sin, which we have committed before you through speech:
This one is a bit hard, because I have said a lot of things about our President and other Democrats this year. The question here is TRUTH a defense for my “speech”? If not I am in big trouble, and will have to throw entire loafs of bread into the water during Tashlich.
3. And for the sin, which we have committed before you by improper thoughts:
This is trouble for me believe me. I have a warped mind with a warped sense of humor. I think that it would go to the Supreme Court for interpretation on what is an improper thought. Is just the thought about what is an improper thought count as an improper thought?
4. And for the sin, which we have committed before you by verbal [insincere] confession:
I am fine with this, but there are a lot of celebrities and famous people that would definitely burn for this one. How many times have we said I am sorry and really didn’t mean it ….. Shhhhhh don’t show this to my wife ☺
5. For the sin, which we have committed before you by disrespect for parents and teachers: Is there a statute of limitations on this one ?
If so I am in big trouble. Both of my parents have passed away, but I have many many years of not being too nice to teachers. Let’s just say that many prematurely retired after having me as a student. I just finished writing a book on that subject so it is now fresh in my mind.
6. For the sin, which we have committed before you by impurity of speech:
As a former Long Islander this one hurts. I think that there is something in the water there that made us all use curse words so I will be throwing entire loaves of bread into the f………………..n water .
7. And for the sin which we have committed before you by eating and drinking:
Busted: I love to eat and I love wine. I am a social drinker whatever that means. At what point does this sin kick in? I would assume probably breakfast buffets put me over the top. I have lost over 35 pounds. The question here is does God consider each time this happens, or in the aggregate ? I am hoping for the latter or ………………another 2 loaves although there may be one only making it (sounds of eating).
8. And for the sin which we have committed before You by a haughty demeanor
Definitions of haughty on the Web:
Disdainful: having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthy; Well the name of my column is “ You are entitled to my opinion “ so it is really hard to get by that one. 8 loaves of bread here.
1. And for the sin, which we have committed before you in passing judgment:
Busted once again, but as I said earlier is TRUTH A DEFENSE? If not then I will be putting a truckload of bread for just what I said about Obama on this one.
2. And for the sins for which we are obligated to bring a burnt-offering”
Anybody who has eaten my steaks from the barbeque knows that I am covered here.
3. For the sin of not believing Jimmy Carter for his pronouncement of an Al Chet for the way that he treats Jews and Israel. Sorry Jimmy I am pretty confident that I will win this one.
This is the condensed version here. If you all see me hauling a U-Haul full of bread you now will know why.
Happy New Year