Fix It? I Don't Know I Did Anything - 3 Lessons From Yom Kippur


Fix It? I Don't Know I Did Anything - 3 Lessons From Yom Kippur
Repairing what you do not know that you have done - lessons from the Jewish Yom Kippur

Today is Yom Kippur, the end of the Days of Awe or Repentance, ten days that began with Rosh Hashanah, for those of the Jewish faith.  It is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year and teaches us some important lessons in our own relationships.

1. Even as our own beliefs change, there is still meaning found in rituals that come from our tradition. Whether they are observant Jews or not, some degree of observance (fasting or abstaining from work even if not synagogue attendance) is observed by the majority of Jews. This makes the traditional phrase of “Have an easy fast” make sense even if you have not asked if they are fasting. This is also the reason that Israel grinds to a near complete halt on Yom Kippur. In the same way, when things have shaken the foundation of your relationship, observing rituals that had become part of your tradition can still have meaning. This is the case whether it is in the form of a good-bye kiss, respecting a night apart with friends, or finding ways to pray together.


2. We need to seek forgiveness for things we have done that we do not know that we have done. While this actually happens leading up to Yom Kippur, Jews seek forgiveness of others, including for things that they were not aware of. There have been a couple times in my life where someone has come to me to ask for forgiveness for what they knew that they had done and for what they were unaware of. It was powerful in our relationships because it allowed me to let go of my anger and other negative feelings and allowed us to work on rebuilding the relationship. It is very easy to do something inadvertently to someone that we love that really hurts them and to not even be aware of it. Yom Kippur, or actually the days leading up to it, teach us that we can seek restoration of a relationship and forgiveness for things even when we are not aware of what we have done. It does require that we are vulnerable enough to admit that we may have hurt another without realizing it.

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Article contributed by
Advanced Member

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith

Marriage and Family Therapist

The Rev. Christopher L. Smith, LCAC, LMHC, LMFT has served as a national leader around mental health issues both within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in professional counseling organizations.  He works directly with individuals, couples, families and supervisees as the Clinical Director of Seeking Shalom in New York City.  He also brings his insight to help a wider audience through writing, speaking and consultations.

Location: New York, NY
Credentials: LAC, LMFT, LMHC, MDiv
Specialties: Couples/Marital Issues, Forgiveness, Spiritual
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