You are 16 years old and your father has told you to take out the garbage.
This is the job you hate most in the world.
So you acknowledge that you heard what he said, and then you walk out of the house to go to school without doing it. When you arrive home, your father calls you into the room and asks you why you didn’t take out the garbage. You reply that you forgot and you will do it. But then you start thinking about the smelly garbage room and the bugs. You go to sleep without taking it out.
The next morning your father asks again why you didn’t take out the garbage. You apologize profusely and then go to school without taking it out.
When you arrive home, your father calls you again and asks you why you didn’t take out the garbage. This time you know that you are in trouble.
”Son/Daughter, I want you to know that you have done something really wrong. The issue is not that you haven’t taken the garbage out for these three times. The issue is that you have hurt our relationship. Three times you told me that you would do it and each time you promised me. Now I know one thing; I cannot trust your word anymore. This shows that, on a certain level, you don’t respect me or value our relationship. I want you to think over what you have done and decide what you need to do to rectify the wrong you have done."
Your father’s words really make an impression. Now you really feel bad. It finally hit you what you have done. You want to return to your father and tell him you are sorry. It is not so simple in this case to just say you are sorry. There is something more serious involved here. You have damaged your credibility with your father. Just saying you are sorry is not enough to repair the damage.
So you decide to make a plan. After thinking about what you did, you decided to take the following steps:
Step One - You sincerely feel regret for what you have done. You will not try to push away these feelings of regret over what you have done but rather you will let yourself use them in order to spur you to take the steps necessary to change.
Step Two - You will listen to your father. Until you get forgiveness from him you will make sure to listen to everything else that he asks of you.
Step Three - You will go to him and ask forgiveness for what you have done. You will tell him that you are sorry.
Step Four - You will tell him that you have made a decision to listen to his instructions and will not procrastinate any longer.
The next day you go to your father and explain how sorry you are, and that in the future you promise to listen to him immediately when asked to do something. You pour out your heart to him and beseech him to forgive you. Upon seeing your great sincerity and change in attitude, your father wholeheartedly forgives you and warmly welcomes you back into his good graces.
What has occurred here? You have restored your relationship with your father. You have taken a situation of a wounded relationship with him and turned it around. Because you took the time to think it out and sincerely change, you were accepted back by him with joy.
For an explanation of this parable, click here.
If you find this approach to Rosh Hashana useful, you might enjoy the following as well, all thanks to R. Aryeh Nivin.
2. Waking Up to the Sound of the Shofar: Self-evaluation quiz
3. How to use the weeks leading up to Rosh Hashana
4. Defining the spirituality of Rosh Hashana
“It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.” - Churchill