When I was young I made an astonishing discovery about Jewish daily prayer: Each morning service had a confessional. I remember wondering, Do we really sin each day?
When I paid attention to my own conduct and that of my classmates, I realized the prescience of the tradition. We hit each other, hurt each other and often said cruel things. We were kids. The confessional gave us a moment in each service to think about what we had done and to face up to it before God.
But I do remember thinking — surely when I get older I will get better at this! I did not like all my teachers equally, but I could not imagine that they would do the sorts of things I did, so I assumed that the confessional when you got older would be pro forma — something one did because it was part of the service, but not as essential as when one was young.
Now I am the same age, and in some cases older, than the teachers I had back then. The daily confession is still in the service — and once more I tip my hat (or unclip my kipa) to the tradition, which was far wiser than I.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book is “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press).