Ben Stein's Diary

Atonement Saturday

Making a list of what I am most sorry for.

By 9.20.10

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Saturday
It is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. I am -- as usual -- ill with stomach problems, so it is no problem to fast, which we are supposed to do on Yom Kippur. I will have to drink tea and medicine, though, which I probably should not do.

I am not at the synagogue. I was so stunned by the rabbi's saying last year that as far as he was concerned, the late Senator Edward Kennedy, a man of the most questionable character imaginable, was a member of the shul, and that we had to pray for the passage of Obamacare, that I have not been back since.

Anyway, I am making a list of what I am most sorry for. The main thing, the acts I most bitterly regret, have to do with hitting my dogs when they did bad things like chewing up the furniture or the upholstery in the car.

I really feel terrible about that. I have not done it in thirty years, but when I think that I did it to those poor sweet faces, those dogs who did what they did only because they were nervous and ill at ease and lonely, I feel awful. I am deeply ashamed and have sought to make it up to the world of dogs ever since. But I am ashamed.

Dogs are God's gifts to mankind and I am heartily sorry. My mother forbade me to ever strike a dog again in 1976 and my wife added her ultimatum to that, too, and they have stuck.

I am also deeply, humbly sorry for my misbehavior towards my wife, who is a living breathing saint, and whom I have mistreated by anger and in other ways, and I am humbly sorry and have tried to give her a good life in return. But I am still desperately sorry.

Then, I am sorry for mistreating my old girlfriends Mary and Pat. I loved them both with a powerful love, and yet I mistreated them and I am terribly sorry and, again, ashamed. I wish I could take it all back, but I can't. I am sorry and ashamed about it every day. It was about forty years ago, when I was crazed with youth and drugs, but I am humbly sorry. I beg to God for forgiveness.

I am sorry for, as a youth, not thanking my parents more for the hard work they put into making my life comfortable and even, in some ways, lavish. I am truly and deeply and humbly sorry. In later life, I did thank them effusively, but, as Eric Clapton says, I wish that I had started long before I did.

When I pray, I ask God to shower His blessings on the family and the soul of Richard M. Nixon, the greatest man of my lifetime, and the savior of Eretz Israel. In time to come, when all secrets are revealed -- except for mine, I hope -- I believe Nixon will be seated at a throne of glory in heaven. Yes, you can make fun of me all you want for saying that, but I believe it.

Well, I also pray for the souls of my beloved parents, for Alex's war hero father and mother, for my sister, for my wife, for the dogs, for our son and daughter-in-law, for the armed forces, for this great country, the sum of all human aspirations, and for my dear, dear friend, Peter M. Flanigan, who took care of me when I was a poor, lonely soul on Wall Street and treated me like a true friend. He has been my hero for a long time now. He took me, a mournful columnist at the Wall Street Journal, and bought me lunch at the Recess Club. I often pray for Bob Bartley, my editor at the Journal. He came to be angry at me because I busted Michael Milken, whom he liked a lot, but he was a genuinely great man (not Milken, Bartley), although I have come to admire Milken in later life for his charitable endeavors.

I pray for my dear friends, Barron and Phil and Russ, who make my life far better than it would otherwise be. They are truly super friends.

Well, enough of that. I am just so grateful to be in America. I just cannot tell you how grateful I am. In a moment, I will lie in bed with my dog, Brigid, and thank God for all of what He has done for me. I did not do any of it. God made it all possible. Every breeze that blows over me is a gift from God.

And while we are at it, let us pray that America moves away from murdering our own children, the unborn, the most innocent among us. This truly is the most outrageous of sins.

Ronald Reagan stood so tall for life. I miss him desperately. I don't think he would want a mosque built at Ground Zero. Well, now I must lie down with Brigid.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.