three existential commitments are at the foundation of yom kippur: forgiveness, atonement and repentance. these three commitments are practices of the whole-being, for they require both a state of consciousness and the actualization of consciousness in concrete deeds.
to forgive is very difficult. to atone for a wrong we
committed to others is less difficult. to be able to repent is a joyous
repentance implies the recognition of having committed a wrong,
and as such, it has the ability to be a catalyst for atonement. but forgiveness
remains very difficult. here is one distinction we must make: to
forgive oneself and to forgive others. and after making this distinction, we must promptly discard it, for it is a false one.
to repent is to forgive, and thus its importance. that is to say: the salvation that comes with repentance is in the existential commitment to forgive ourselves. but how do
we learn to repent and to forgive ourselves? where do we draw the strength
we need in order to make peace with our own selves? the answer of
human life is this: we learn to forgive ourselves by
forgiving others. in other words: we do not repent in a sacrament, we repent in the skin of our neighbor.
it can't be otherwise, for the grace of becoming
human depends on our will to embrace our neighbor. or in other words: to be my-self, i must say "thou". and if we ask: how do i learn to forgive? the answer of human life is this: we cannot
learn to forgive, forgiveness is what will teach us. this is the
deepest meaning of the torah injunction "na'ase v'nishma", we shall do and we shall hear. we shall
first do the deeds of love and then we shall recognize the call emanating from the source of being. to do the deed is to respond to the call.