Forced Forgiveness

Post by Melissa

During Elul and leading up to the Yamim Noraim (literally Days of Awe, better known as the High Holidays), we are supposed to be working on repentance and forgiveness. Righting our own wrongs and moving on from those of others.

The repentance thing I’ve got down.  I work hard at recognizing when I’ve wronged someone and making amends on that throughout the year, rather than waiting to one final month to get it all in.  Without fail though I will still send out some mass communication offering an apology to those I have unintentionally hurt, offended, or wronged in some way and inviting anyone to speak to me directly if needed.  I feel that this year, I am in an espescially good place with this one.

As for forgiveness, I’m so not there.

Recently someone very close to me accused me of doing something inconceivable and then comparing it to something truly atrocious.  I know this person (who I shall call X, so no one mistakenly thinks it is them) said these mean things in the heat of a moment and didn’t really believe them.  Never the less, they were said and they hurt me very deeply.  I took some time to calm down and then told X how hurt I was by their words, I thought this would put us on a path to moving forward, however the response I got was basically more of the same.  So I stopped speaking to X.  I just couldn’t face the hurt and anger I had.  I knew that this time of forgiveness was coming and hoped to be able to embrace the spirit of it to move on.  But I can’t.

I know that I am capable of doing anything, and while I can say “I forgive X” it will be forced and not real.  I will not believe it.  I will only be lying to myself, to X, and to Hashem – which is not what is best for anyone. And while I do believe that someday I will be able to forgive, I will never be able to forget.

So how do I move past this feeling of forced forgiveness?  Do I really have to forgive them right now when it is still so fresh? Is the intention to someday forgive them sufficient?


In the interest of honesty, I must say that just posting this makes me nervous.  No one other than my husband and mother know about this situation so no one will be able to figure it out and oust X nor do I think that X read this blog, but I am nervous that they will and will only be more offended. This is clearly not my intent. I just needed to say it and to hopefully get some guidance in insights from my community.


Be Called to Search

Post by Melissa

This past Friday I have the D’var Torah (literally word of Torah) at our monthly All-Staff meeting.  I was inspired as I awoke of what I wanted to address, wrote it while walking to work, and liked how it turned out.  So, I wanted to share it with you all 🙂


This week we celebrated Rosh Chodesh Elul – the month preceding Tishrei which brings us the Yamim Noraim.

Beginning on the second day of Elul and running right up to the day before Rosh Hashana we blow the shofar every morning (except on Shabbat).  The shofar is a loud and distinctive sound.  It calls to us in a way which we cannot ignore, nor mistake for anything else. It calls us to action.

Does everyone have the sound in their head? Ok, great – moving along.

Many drashot around this time highlight that the Hebrew letters which spell the word Elul – aleph, lamed, vav, lamed – are an acronym for the well known saying “ani l’dodi v’dodi li” commonly translated as “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” This is part of Shir Ha’shirim, which is a love poem said to be between Gd and the Jewish people.

I don’t want to go there though. There are lots of pieces around you can read if you want to on that.

There is something else about the word Elul which strikes me more.  In Aramaic, which was the colloquial language at the time when the months were likely named, Elul means search. So the month of Elul calls us to search.

But what does that really mean?  

On a personal level, I think we all have to decide for ourselves. We all know in our guts what we need to be searching for as we approach the new year – the hard part is to letourselves listen toour internal shofar and act accordingly.

I pray that this month as we begin out individual searches… {I concluded with stuff relevant only to my coworkers and not to the general public, so you get a new prayer below}


I pray that this month, as we begin our individual searches, we can come together as a collective Jewish people and move forward.  We can only do this by each acting in the best interests of the community and putting aside that which divides us in favor of what unites us.  I pray that this month brings comfort, closure, and healing to us all.  May we be guided to fulfilling and meaningful teshuva as we prepare for the new year.


Post by Melissa

The month of Elul began last week, and while I fully intended to write a post on Rosh Chodesh (which was Wednesday, a normal Melissa posting day) I am glad I got too busy to make that happen, so that I can do it now instead.

Elul is the month which leads us up to the Yamim Noraim, more commonly known as the High Holidays.  Throughout Elul we reflect upon our past year and the lessons learned as we prepare for the auspicious days ahead.  Rosh Hashana provides us a new start, the ten days of repentance a time to discuss our wrongs with other people, and on Yom Kippur we make one final plea to Hashem to forgive all our wrong doings and to be sealed for another year of life.

The past year has been quite tumultuous for D and me.  We have faced the gammat of issues from my unemployment and poor health,  to the stresses of school and pre-rabbinical preparations for D, to the ultimate test – families.  We have both had a variety of physical and emotional problems amongst our closest family members.  Top it off with it being our first year of marriage and all the adjustments inherent in that and well, lets just say we are glad to see it go.

There have been some amazing highs of course, including the starting of this blog.  Not only has it given me a fun creative outlet, it has allowed me to challenge my thoughts and ideas in a constructive manner.  It has allowed me to make some great new friends and find new Rabbis to whom I can relate and ask questions just for the sake of curiosity. It has also given me a new level of passion for Jewish education and women’s issues and I hope that going forward I am able to find new ways of sharing that passion.

Given this, I do not find it ironic that I resigned myself to my destiny of being a Jewish professional as the month drew near, and that I spent the days around the new moon interviewing for a position, which I will begin this Monday. I hope this new position lights my way to a meaningful career and continued reflection and drive not only in the month of Elul, but in the months and years to come.

I encourage you to take a moment to reflect upon your year. Its strengths and weaknesses. The good and bad which has come of it. Perhaps most importantly though, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on the lessons which you learned and how you can apply that in the year to come. When the shofar sounds this Rosh Hashana, let it not be a wake-up call, but rather a call to action.