Each of us, at some time, has been insensitive, ungrateful, distracted, self-absorbed, unwelcoming, unpleasant, standoffish, belligerent, angry, or just moody. It is hard for us to always predict or appreciate the effects of our thoughts, words or actions on others. But during this period of time, we must dig deep in our souls and empathetically ask forgiveness for anything hurtful or potentially hurtful that we said or did or neglected to say or do.
So who or what should forgive us to make sure that our fate is a positive one? A reasonable first response would be God. After all, it is called days of awe; which sounds like it has to do with a divinity. It is also considered the most religious holiday in a religion which is, in many respects, God-centered. In accordance with ancient Jewish beliefs; as God is omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (everywhere), omnibenevolent (all loving) and omnipotent (all powerful), he/she/it would have the knowledge, desire and ability to absolve and forgive all of your sins, transgressions and wrongdoings involving anyone and everyone. It would be a one stop forgiveness shopping. Who better to go to then God?
However, the ancients had something else in mind. During this important time, it is not God that we are required to ask for forgiveness; it is our fellow man, the recipient of the action or inaction. Perhaps they had pre-knowledge of modern forgiveness research by Everett Worthington, Robert Enright, Michael McCullough, and others showing the multitude of health and wellness benefits achieved when we ask forgiveness directly from someone whom we have hurt in some way. According to Jewish beliefs, you cannot adequately be forgiven unless it is directly from the person or people with whom the misconduct involves. You can’t be absolved by some higher third party. Yes, forgiveness is divine; but fortunately it is human as well. In fact, forgiveness is finding the divine in all of us. As someone who is trying to quit the Blame Game, I attempt to avoid blaming. However, I’m not always successful and still find myself blaming someone or something for my perceived troubles. Luckily, there is salvation in the process of forgiving.