At this time last year, in a takeoff of the Al Chet prayer,
I asked for the community’s forgiveness for a list of offenses, including our choices of speakers, our seating assignments at events, our overuse of e-mail, etc. Unfortunately, a few people misunderstood my intent and suggested that my apology was not genuine. For this, I am sorry.
The truth is that everything on my list last year was a criticism that we actually received from people the year before. We strive for perfection, but we rarely achieve it. Mistakes happen. People get offended. We really are sorry. We want to be perfect, but we aren’t.
Just before his passing in 2016, I had the privilege of hearing from the elder statesman, former president and prime minister of Israel, and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Shimon Peres. In his gentle and fatherly way, he leaned forward and whispered into his microphone, “Do you know the secret behind the longevity of the Jewish people? It’s because we are never satisfied. We always want to do better and be better.”
Since hearing that speech, I have a new perspective on criticism. If we are to be our best, it is important for us to know when we aren’t. So this year, in addition to my genuine apology to those whom we have wronged, please also accept my gratitude to those of you who let me know.
Yom Kippur starts Tuesday evening. Wishing everyone a g’mar chatima tova-a good final sealing.
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