The Nation's Pulse

Atoning With Broken Hearts (and Wallets)

There’s a long list of sins to admit to on this Yom Kippur.

By 10.9.08

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Philosophers debate whether Reason can be adduced in support of Revelation, but they scoff at the source most of us use: Observation.

You tell me whether or not the truth of the following Talmud citation has been established beyond a reasonable doubt these past two weeks. "Just as a person's income over the next year is determined over the ten-day period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, so are the losses in capital he will sustain. If he is fortunate, he will give them to charity. If not, it goes to the government or to waste. Rabbi Johanan saw in a dream his nephews would lose seven hundred shekels the coming year. He kept pestering them for charities until he had collected 683. On the last day before Yom Kippur, a special tax from the government took the last 17." (Bava Batra 10a)

Watching the forces of depletion make our assets evaporate right up until the Day of Atonement should soften even the most adamant skeptic. So, having experienced the problem, let us trust that same tradition for the solution.

Repeat after me (my adaptation of the liturgy):

Lord, pardon our shortcomings, forgive our violations and absolve us from all our negligence, for the sins we committed...

...under pressure or willfully

...toughening our hearts

...abandoning good judgment

...expressing with our lips

...openly or clandestinely

...crossing sexual barriers

...speaking with our mouths

...using strategy and wiles

...scheming in our hearts

...demeaning a friend

...with insincere confessions

...gathering for lewd behavior

...through malice or neglect

...disrespecting parents and teachers

...strong-arming to get our way

...treating God's identity profanely

...with foolishness of the mouth

...and vulgarity of the lips

...obeying immoral impulses

...with or without foreknowledge

...by the palm of graft

...through denial and deception

...with deleterious gossip

...undermining by ridicule

...in business transactions

...in meals and parties

...with usury and overcharging

...craning a haughty neck

...with a curious eye

...and chatter from our lips

...with supercilious eyes

...and brazen facial expression

...by abdicating responsibility

...plotting against a friend

...begrudging the success of peers

...stubbornly not yielding with grace

...by legs running to indulgence

...creating conflict by intrigue

...making untrue declarations

...hating without cause

...hands reaching without right

...letting doubt into our hearts.

Unless of course none of these apply, in which case you can rest easy and look forward to your money boomeranging right back into your pocket the coming year. While you're at it, you might want to share some of those profits with us poor sinners.

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About the Author

Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.