In a little less a week we are going to start seeing the inevitable Yom Kippur Facebook statuses. They ones that say something along the lines of "if I've hurt you in anyway this year then I am truly...etc". I've been struggling a lot of the concept of the high holidays this year and the underlying feeling of these statements is part of my confusion. I keep trying to figure out why saying that you're sorry is enough to change how your upcoming year will be. Like you didn't DO anything. And with those statuses or tweets or Instagram posts, well, you aren't really saying anything either. You're kind of just lumping all of the pain you might have caused together and saying that every action is equal and all the hurt is equal. Basically, saying sorry should clear you of all wrongdoing. As someone who once actually messaged someone after reading one of these posts to tell the person that I'm glad that you're sorry but I'm still hurt and got the response of "well now it's on your conscience"... I just really didn't get it. So, I've spent a week asking questions, reading books, and driving people crazy. But I think I finally am beginning to understand my problem with those blanket statements and Yom Kippur. Shocker, the problem isn't Yom Kippur. This started becoming clear when I mentioned to someone that I'm really scared that any sorry i say, either to a human or to G-d Himself, won't be good enough to bring me a good year. And the person's response was that I have spent a good portion of this year working on myself and learning and finding Judaism. And that is what true teshuva or "repentance" is. Which kinda threw me off. Because that means that i started the process of trying to be inscribed for a good year before I even said sorry or made a general post about it. I started when I realized that I was doing could be hurtful and made the effort to fix it. True teshuva isn't about saying a word and feeling good because you made an amend, true teshuva is saying the word and following the word with actions that show that you are truly trying to never do that again. And I think that's what bothers me about blanket apologies. I don't have any proof that you're going to try and not do it again. You don't even really know you've done anything wrong. Because it's all an "if" statement. Yom Kippur isn't a time to be scared. It's a time to stand there and say I am like an angel. I know what is right. But I am also human so sometimes I do what is wrong. But given the chance and the means, I will do my best to do the least harmful option possible. So, G-d please give me that chance.
Sorry isn't just a word, it's an action.