5 Yom Kippur Relationship Lessons

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The Day Of Atonement has tips we can apply to our relationships, whether we're Jewish or not.

As Jews (and a fair number of non-Jews) around the world are well aware, Yom Kippur began on Sunday evening, September 27, at sunset.

The Day of Atonement, as it is also known, lasts more than twenty-five hours and is traditionally marked by fasting, prayer, asking for forgiveness and repenting. It is the culmination of the Days of Awe, which begin with the two-day Rosh Hashanah or new year celebration (occurring in 2009 from September 18th to the 20th).

One of the world's oldest holidays and one of the most sacred days of the Jewish religion, the Day of Atonement has lessons all of us—Jewish or not—can apply to our lives and our relationships. Among them:

1. Admission of wrongs. A public confession of sins is encouraged on Yom Kippur, and it is something that is admiral all year long. Most relationships are only made better by the words: "I messed up, I'm sorry I did it, and I'm sorry I hurt you." Doing so doesn't just make the hurt person feel better, it alleviates some of the guilt being suffered by the transgressor.  White Lies In Relationships

2. Forgiveness. Traditionally, enemies and bad debts are forgiven on the Day of Atonement, and the slate is wiped clean. Obviously, any good relationship can benefit from the same practice—whether it's over the inadvertent offenses that erupt around the toilet seat or the greater mistakes that result in tears. But forgiveness isn't just something we should grant our better halves; it is also something we should grant ourselves. We all make mistakes. Don't beat yourself up over yours. Forgive yourself and move forward. 5 Ways to Forgive

3. Festivity and charity. The day before Yom Kippur is marked by two large feasts and the giving to charity. Inarguably good for the world, festivity and charity are also beneficial to a relationship. Celebrating with those we love reminds us that our relationships aren't just about duty and commitment, they're also about fun; giving to charity reminds us that the world is bigger than our relationships and that we have things worth sharing.

4. Rest, devotion, and fasting. When Yom Kippur begins, so does the time of fasting, prayer, and rest. Believers are required to pray and to abstain from food, drink, perfume, bathing, sex, and the wearing of leather shoes. And while some may find the idea of such worship and abstinence to be a bit rigorous, we see nothing bad that can come of giving up some luxuries and showing some devotion from time-to-time. At worst, it allows us to embrace the joys of living simply with those we love. At best, it makes us a little more grateful for what we have.

5. It's never too late. Whether you've been burned in past relationships and are hesitant to start anew or are holding onto anger/guilt in your current relationship, there's always a chance for renewal. According to the Jewish calendar, today's the day. The idea that it's never too late to turn over a new leaf is one we could all benefit from carrying with us year-round. In texts both secular and religious, new and very old, the "seize the day" theme persists. If there's something you're missing in your love life, why not go for it right now?