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Are You In This Relationship or Not?

Wednesday, 2 October, 2019 - 1:05 am


Question of the Week:  


Here is something I always wondered: Why is Rosh Hashana before Yom Kippur? If Rosh Hashana is the day of judgement, and Yom Kippur is the day of forgiveness, then it would make more sense to do it the other way around: First give us a chance to fix our mistakes, then judge us for the year to come. No?




I was once asked to counsel a couple having marriage issues. They sat in front of me, and within five seconds each one let loose with a barrage of accusations against the other. 


"He never listens to a thing I say." 

"Well if she wouldn't scream at me maybe I would." 

"Well if you would listen the first time maybe I wouldn't need to scream!" 

"What if you would stop criticising everything I do?"

"If you would think about anyone apart from yourself I could."

"That's the thanks you give me?"


After a few rallies of this marital tennis match, I had to interrupt. "Can I just ask you both, what did you come here for? What are you expecting to gain from this meeting?"


The woman said, "We want to know if this marriage is beyond repair."


"I can't know that. Only you can. But you'll need to look inside yourself and answer one simple question: Am I in?


"If you are in, it means you believe in 'us',  you believe that the connection between you runs deeper than all the issues getting in the way. If you are in, it means that even if you can't see how to get there, you deeply want to reach a place of forgiveness, and you will do whatever it takes to make it happen.


"If you are both in, then we can start taking steps to fix things. If you're not, there's nothing to talk about. 


"So are you in?"


They looked at each other for a long time. Their angry faces started to soften. Finally he said "I'm in." And with a shy smile, she said, "I'm in too."


"Ok great" I said, "Now you can go back to screaming at each other."


But they didn't. It seemed silly to be throwing accusations once they both knew that they are in this for keeps. Their hearts were reconnected. They were plugged in again. Now the forgiveness can start.


Rosh Hashana is about saying "I'm in." During the year our relationship with G-d may have its ups and downs. We sometimes stray from our Jewishness, and we don't always do what we are in this world to do. By the same token, we may have issues and complaints and accusations against G-d too. That's all a part of life. 


But the question is, are you in or not? Whatever happened in the past year, is G-d still your G-d? Are you in this relationship or not? Are you into being Jewish or are you giving up? When we blow the Shofar, we are calling out with a resounding YES! You are my G-d. I am yours. I am Jewish. I am in. 


So the judgment of Rosh Hashana is not just G-d judging us, but also about us pronouncing a verdict on our relationship with Him. Because if we're not in, there's nothing to talk about. But if we are in, now we can start dealing with our stuff and cleaning out the dirty laundry to open a fresh start. After reaffirming our Jewishness on Rosh Hashana, it will be easy to forgive and be forgiven on Yom Kippur. 


That couple is doing great now. They don't play marital tennis any more. They still have their tense moments like all couples, but they know that the relationship is deep enough to handle it. They had their Rosh Hashana to reconnect, and then they did Yom Kippur to clean out the negative past. We can all do the same. 


So, are you in?


Good Shabbos and Good Yomtov, may you be written and sealed for a good and sweet year!

Rabbi Moss

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