I want a perfect body, I want a perfect soul.
If any Radiohead members are Jewish, they are granted at least one of those every year. As Jews, we have the opportunity of forgiving ourselves and others in the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We start the new year fresh. Cleanse our souls and move on. It sounds so refreshing. But can we do it? On Yom Kippur, it feels amazing to say “I’m sorry” to someone you hurt, and equally nourishing to hear it from others. We fast for 24 hours to seal the deal. Depending on your kugel intake, there are no promises for a perfect body, but your soul is squeaky clean.
My cousin shared with me a sermon delivered last week by Rabbi Joel Mosbacher at Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City. I’ve never quoted a rabbi quoting a rabbi before! This ‘new year, new me’ thing is awesome.
Rabbi Mosbacher said, “…here’s the thing. As Rabbi Harold Kushner teaches, ‘forgiveness is not a favor we do for the person who offended us. It is a favor we do for ourselves, cleansing our souls of memories that lead us to see ourselves as victims and make our lives less enjoyable. We can let go of those embittering memories, and enter the New Year clean and fresh.”
Like giving a baby a bath. Clean and fresh! Whatever crap was there before is now a memory to be spun away by a genie. Where there was poop, now there is lavender-scented lotion and a cute tush. We don’t blame the baby for pooping all over a new dress and tights, instead we have empathy. We clean up the mess and move on to the next need. It’s hard to truly forgive and let go with adult crap, but if it’s going to make me happier and a better person, I’m all in.
My first order of forgiveness is to myself, for being so hard on myself. For falling short of the perfect body. For having negative thoughts. For tripping over my splintered soul. For not letting go. Me to self: Sorry! Self to me: Same!
I’m all for clean and fresh. As I learned from The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, you cannot erase your memory, but you can hang out at the beach in the snow. I love snowy beaches, which is good because I live north of Boston by the water. So here’s to appreciating the natural beauty that surrounds us and humbles us. Here’s to seeing the positive and the light, and striving to make each day my best. Here’s to the new year, 5780, and also the new decade!
I loved the 80s the first time around. When I was a teenager and had big hair, I had a much-closer-to-perfect body than I do now. Didn’t we all! At least my soul is holding up pretty well. This year I will strive to improve both and constantly remind myself that unlike Creep, I AM so fucking special! I will also be generous with myself.
Since forgiving others is apparently so rewarding and necessary for the cleansing of my soul, please send your apologies to me by Tuesday at sundown so I can really start 5780 off right.
Happy New Year!
Lauren Weiss is a writer & college essay advisor based in Marblehead, MA. Lauren has founded several web-based nonprofits including the Food Allergy Website, Westfield Foodie and Young Widow – Chapter Two. Lauren’s professional work experience includes VP of the Conference Group at Bear Stearns and PR Director at the JCC of Central NJ. Lauren graduated with a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Originally a Jersey Girl, she recently moved to the North Shore of Boston with her husband, two daughters and a floppy cavechon.