1/ #ReshetKeshet
Before #RoshHashanah there's a common practice to utter a blanket request for forgiveness. E.g. "To everyone I know or encountered please forgive me. OK bye!"

You're correct in thinking that this depersonalized superficial "apology" is hollow & thus ineffective.
2/ How can I forgive someone if they don't know what they did to me? Doesn't admit real guilt, express regret, detail how they will work towards restitution, or describe how they will fix their mentality/behavior to avoid hurting me in the future.
3/ However, #RoshHashanah is a dangerous time of year. Tradition understands the stakes are the highest possible. It's an annual review before the King of Kings, arbiter of justice, and we treat it like the final exam worth 100% of our grade.
4/ Even if we're a mess in every area of our lives, on RH we must show the basic respect of the relationship with God. Every other day of the year there is compassion, wiggle-room, delay before assessment & punishment. Not on Yom Ha-Din, the Day of Judgement.
5/ If we don't respect the day's gravity we fail a fundamental test. It's much like the effectiveness of prayer: I cannot expect my prayers to be fulfilled, but the act of requesting God through prayer demonstrates I understand the covenant & my role within its structure.
6/ A blanket request for forgiveness is a prayer in that sense. It may not work to appease the wronged, but it may induce people towards "chein" (grace), to take pity & not hold grudges.

That can be good: holding baseless, egotistical, grudges is a sin
7/ What I do every year is offer a blanket, conditional, forgiveness: I forgive you if you've done teshuva.

Teshuva means: regret, shame, promise/plan to restore & repair and confessing to the person you've wronged.

So I forgive those who've done every step but the last one.
8/ This is the limit of my kindness. I can't be so churlish to deny someone a clean slate on the Day of Judgement if they haven't been able to finish the technical parts of repentance. But if they haven't done teshuva, then I just can't forgive them.
9/ I'm a rabbi & philosopher so l also accept many, many mitigating factors. Some people don't know they've wronged me and/or did so without intention, or even without negligence. Life is tough; I know this. These too, I forgive. And recommend others forgive these too.
10/ Moreover, this is a time when I need to be extra circumspect and self-critical. Days of judgement are days of Truth. So if I have wronged you, I'm ready to hear how and I commit myself to recognizing my crimes, sins, and errors.

That's a blanket request. Tell me, please.
11/ I don't know if I project a prickly demeanor that prevents people from telling me I hurt them. Most people don't react well to criticism and I'm likely guilty of being arrogant or off-putting in addition to that.

I promise to accept the reprimand.
12/ It's true that one of the biggest gifts to the B'nai Brit Sinai is #YomKippur: a way to get a generous reprieve for an inevitably harsh review on #RoshHashanah

All the other nations with their Brit Keshet's 7 mitzvot do not have this gift.
13/ #RoshHashanah is the day of judgement for the entire world. Every person is subject to a covenant with God and that's the nature of the day's judgement. RH is a universal holiday, and so my request for, and offer of, forgiveness is universal.
14/ When I was involved with conversions, I would try to ensure that the person was able to get to the mikvah before YK because that's a gift too valuable to deny if it's so close to being attained. In my mind, and in theirs if I taught them well, it's a matter of life & death.
15/ RH is tomorrow night. I forgive everyone with the conditions I described above. I release all my groundless grudges. I ask anyone who I've wronged to please tell me now, or before #YomKippur, so I can make amends before I stand in judgement.

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More from @JoshuaCypess

5 Sep
60.01/ Week sixty, Sept. 5-11, 2021, thread begins here.

Week 59 (Aug 28-Sept. 4th, oops, 2021) below
60.02/ From last night, mourning the passing of a #Steelers legend and - from what I hear - an all-around good guy, baal-chesed, #TunchIlkin
60.03/ It's absolutely crucial to hear what these conservatives think of women: as "host bodies" of a fetus. Women are objects to them. Dehumanization is the first step to the worst atrocities.
Read 12 tweets
1 Sep
1/ Jude's warning about the "one good man" (in this case, about the NBer trainwreck, see inside) is something I worry about as well: when a cause's fate can rise or fall with the virtue or sins of one single person.
2/ This can be an inevitable consequence of ethical heroics. Jewish law (IMO) emphasizes the severity of Chillul Hashem for this reason: Jews are commanded to act as representatives for God on Earth. Our individual behavior can destroy the entire mission.
3/ Yet an iconoclastic mission will often require salient, brave individuals. How to avoid the problem of Chillul Hashem and the pitfalls of Jude's "One Good Man"?

Same answer: Don't be alone. Don't be "one."
Read 10 tweets
29 Aug
59.01/ Week fifty-nine, Aug. 28-Sept. 3, 2021, thread begins here.

Week 58 thread below.
59.02/ Scoring a run on a balk is such sweet victorious humiliation. Like in NFL when a QB gives up a safety by running out the back of the endzone. Thanks Nationals. #LGM
59.03a/ One year without fans in the stands and they forgot how to act right.

The fans can't be abusive, throw objects, hurl slurs. This we know. But we cheer and boo. That's our job. And if players enjoy the cheering they need to fear the booing as well.
Read 46 tweets
26 Aug
1/ These are two very solid threads by @Mandalorthodox about what is evidently a hot topic on JTwitter: a familiar (to me) inter-denominational fracas about authenticity and validity.

2/ I usually stay out of these discussions because of my heavy footprint: both as an Orthodox rabbi and a Ph.D. in Jewish studies & sociology. My dissertation deals directly with these topics. See especially ch. 1 & ch. 5 (Conclusion).

3/ Yet I'll add two points from my expert perspective:
1) Many non-Orthodox claims are as polemical & doctrinaire as the O are presumed to be. Ironically, each denomination has orthodoxies. Saying "Jews believe X" (like "no afterlife") is actually just one side in a debate.
Read 12 tweets
22 Aug
1/ We went on a family trip last week. It was the first vacation we could carve out in a while (see also, Tishrei holidays on Tues/Wed this year) plus the need to relieve the cabin-fever of COVID. Foresight also suggested we should grab time now before the next wave.
2/ In the past we've been able to travel far, but staying close to home seemed prudent this year pandemic-wise. So we went to the Hudson River Valley. Just 2 hours away but it felt like a different world. Which was perfect. Important history there plus great natural beauty. One of us on the Walkway Over the Hudson which was described
3/ The above pic is from the Walkway Over the Hudson, the 2nd longest pedestrian bridge in the world. And I believe it, because while traversing it in the climate-changed heat, I was firing spoons off like an overheated Gatling gun.
Read 32 tweets
22 Aug
58.01/ Week fifty-eight, Aug. 21-27, 2021, thread begins here.

Week 57 thread below.
58.02/ This article, sporting footnote numbers in superscript without any accompanying - um, ya know, actual - notes, has big "lazily plagiarized from Wikipedia" vibes to it.
58.03/ OTOH, this is an absolutely crucial piece in the Jewish Press by Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman, explaining and expanding on the ruling of Harav Hershel Schachter, that getting the COVID vaccine is halakhically required. Demanded.
Read 36 tweets

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