7 Elul 5773
By Scott Friedman
During the month of Elul, while other Jews are searching their souls in preparation for Rosh Hashanah (Judgment) and Yom Kippur (Atonement), I do not search my soul. While other Jews are thinking about granting and asking for forgiveness, I have no thoughts of forgiveness whatsoever. I am certain there are many circumstances for which I should grant and ask forgiveness, but I do not think about those circumstances during Elul or any other time. When I began writing this reflection, I was forced to confront previously unanswered questions. Why don’t I search my soul? Why don’t I think about forgiveness? Writing my thoughts helped me realize that I am not afraid of what I will find if I were to reflect, but what I will not find when I try to remember.
My actions, or in this case lack of actions, are not based on religious, spiritual, cultural, political, or familial beliefs. The fact is that cancer, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation have hidden many of my memories in a part of the brain where I cannot find them. I’m sure the memories are up there, but I simply cannot find them. I don’t remember what it is I did wrong, what I could have done differently, or what I need to forgive. I obviously have some memories or I would not be able to write this, but the memories I need for the soul searching and forgiveness seem to have disappeared for now.
Please understand that I consider cancer and my lack of memory to be a gift. Rather than knowing I have a past for which I must repent, I now have an opportunity to create a future for which repentance is less necessary.
Let us all make the year ahead one of health, healing, happiness, listening, understanding, sharing, optimism, and great memories.