I began this journey 39 days ago with such high hopes and big intentions. Went through harvest of achievements, and farewells to what and who is gone, made lists of what I want to repair and focused on intentions for the future that will make me happier, more focused and alive.

And here I stand, a day before the trial, hours before the verdict that will determine another year in a life. Maybe a year. Maybe a life.  Who really knows?
I am keenly aware this morning of what I promised but did not fulfill, of what’s it’s like to stand to trial for my life and know that when asked I will have to reply, with my head down: ‘guilty’.  Not of all charges, Your Honor, and there are many witnesses who will speak on my behalf and cite good examples of what a great guy I am. But the charges are not to be denied and I stand here for trial, begging for a break, asking for mercy and compassion and a chance to go again.
Guilty of not taking care of my body as I should I would, of so-so with nutrition and never actualizing that bike plan. Guilty of rage, on the road and in other places. Guilty of too many fears that overcome my better judgements. Guilty of not working hard enough to  raise the money needed to pay back loved ones. Guilty of excess. Guilty of shame.  The list goes on.
But with all this I will stand to trial these days of atonement knowing that I tried, and hard, to come clean. And I stand here starting first of all with self-forgiveness. Not as a cop out from the responsibility to take these days of reflection seriously and with humility and heightened awareness – but with love, and tenderness. Some beat their chests with each alphabetical listing of our woes. I prefer to massage the heart, taking stock of each oops and wrong and best intentions gone awry with a loving yet firm fist.
Eyes on the future. With self love and self forgiveness I can stand here knowing that I’m human, that I try, and that I’ll try again, harder, this coming year. There is so much precious time to not waste and important things to do to make my life and those of others better, brighter, bigger yet.
I’ve traveled all these days to get to this threshold. Many of you have traveled with me. Tonight and tomorrow we stand together,  all the ancient words echoing in our private holy of holies where there is only silence.  In this private chamber waits our endless, unconditional love.
I wish us all a meaningful and powerful visit to this holy of holies within. We are here – now.
יום 39 לספירת 40: סליחה מעצמי
Book is sealed but always open. PREPENT5773 Day 40+41


Rabbi Amichai & Lab/Shul’s annual Elul journey into the new Jewish year with 40 daily communally co-created inspirations to help us begin the year with more focus and presence.

View all >