Sticks and Stones...
We all remember the saying when we were little that sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me. I would like to offer an amendment to that phrase. I offer that we should change the but to an and. The reason for this is actions and words will hurt us. It would be nice to believe that we could rise above getting our feelings hurt but we know this is difficult. In Judaism words are just as powerful as deeds, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (proverbs 18:2). What is said to us, and what we say, has the potential to imprint itself on us and others for the rest of our lives.
As we approach Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we are asked to reflect on our actions and words from this past year. We are also asked to consider two different relationships. The first is our relationship with God. This relationship is referred to as bein adam l' Makom (between a person and God). Yom Kippur serves as our apology and soul reflection towards our relationship with God. It absolves any of the broken promises or commitments we have made in our hearts or in private the past year. However, the second type of relationship, bein adam l'chavero (between a human and their fellow human) can only be repaired by making direct atonement (unless doing so would cause the individual more pain or suffering).
While reflection of this nature is not the most pleasant of activities, Judaism asks us in these weeks leading up to the holydays to begin our reflection early. To meditate on who we have been, who we would like to be, and how our words and actions have affected others. This Shabbat take some time to reflect, to begin the process towards repair and healing.