I’ve been religiously involved my whole life – my parents are Jewish professionals, I grew up at a Jewish summer camp, I was involved in youth group, the list goes on. I enjoy having a faith to internalize and at times to grapple with. I believe I embody my religious values and whether or not I believe in God’s divine presence or intervention comes second to the fact that I live the morals, ethics and beliefs of my Judaism.
This is where today gets difficult for me. Last night I attended a religious service where the leader spoke a great deal about God as a judging figure; God as the honorable one on the bench while our good intentions defend us and our bad intentions prosecute. Yom Kippur is a time for Jews to atone for our sins, to apologize to those who we may have transgressed against and to forgive those who have transgressed against us. While in the end God may be the supernatural being that judges our rights from our wrongs, or vice versa, and ultimately chooses our path for the coming year, today resonates with me more in my personal relationships than in my relationship with God.
To me, it is important to wholeheartedly take on the idea of asking and giving forgiveness to those around me. This is a true expression of who I am as a Jew. It is what I believe in and it is the way I know I should conduct myself, especially today of all days.
But in a heavily-digitized era, what constitutes a genuine apology or genuine forgiveness? With the amount of Facebook statuses that I have seen, or the many “easy fast” snapchats I have received (and the few I have sent) – does that “count” as atonement? Can I send a text to someone I know I’ve hurt and wish them a sweet new year and still have it feel the same way?
Could I even ask forgiveness in a blog post and have there be magnitude or significance behind it?
It is so tricky these days to understand the emotion of someone through text, especially on social media. Clear writing can only ever be so clear, but it can also be misunderstood. Disclaimer: I am not discrediting these posts, snaps, and messages as superficial; I simply struggle with the amount of emotion and intention that can go into a post as such. I believe this holiday is a time to physically make the effort to ask forgiveness, especially if what you are asking for has been a physical, in-person transgression.
Moreover, it is easy for the transgressions of the past to stay with you longer via social media. You can be reminded by photographs, messages, even constant contact through updating news feeds about something you may have done wrong or someone who may have wronged you. Somewhat related – I have taken quite an interest to #piggate, PM David Cameron’s collegiate mishap that has swamped British social media. If Cameron wanted to ask forgiveness or apologize – which I somewhat hope he doesn’t; it would be better if this could go away all together – #piggate would still be set in stone as a wrongdoing that social media now has a hold of and has eternalized, for lack of a better word.
At risk of sounding like an advice column, I want to end with this:
My fellow Jews: today, when you look to apologize or forgive those around you, attempt to do so in person. Make known to the person who wronged you or the person you have wronged that you care about your relationship, and do so in person or verbally rather than in text. It says so much more when you can address someone like this when it is not through a screen or a keyboard, and I aim to do so today especially, but even more so through the rest of this year.