Today is Yom Kippur - the holiest day of the Jewish year.  It's the day when we atone for our sins and our transgressions and ask God to forgive us and reinscribe us in the Book of Life.

It's a pretty big deal, and when I say atone, I mean we atone - and not in a silent prayer kind of way.  We don't go around in a circle and confess to individual sins and transgressions or anything - but as a congregation we out loud acknowledge our shortcomings, acknowledge our failures with the Al Chet

Ten times over the course of 2 days we say the Al Chet and confess our sins.

"For the sin which we have committed before You under duress or willingly."

"And for the sin which we have committed before You by hard-heartedness."

"For the sin which we have committed before You inadvertently."

Those are the first 3. There are 44 total.  The thing is, as our not-quite-rabbi pointed out (I belong to a super-small congregation and we don't technically have a rabbi, we have a lay leader, but he's as learned as any rabbi I've ever met so I consider it a minor technicality), the majority of sins we acknowledge are verbal. Sins of the mouth as it were.  

This struck me since recently, I've been thinking about words. Specifically - are actions truly louder than words? I want to say yes - I want to say that the demonstration of a feeling means so much more than just saying it. But words aren't without power.

Words can be whittled and honed until they are sharply pointed daggers ready to pierce and draw blood at the slightest provocation.

Words can cut. Deep.

Words can play on every fear and insecurity we have and leave us riddled with doubt and more fear and more insecurity.

Words - very simply - can hurt. 

I know because I've had words used against me before and let me tell you: sticks and stones may break my bones and YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT THAT CALLING ME NAMES WILL HURT ME MOTHERFUCKER.

I also know because apparently I am a ninja with words myself and I can turn the most basic combination of vowels and consonants into a verbal nunchucks and hurl it directly at a dear friend. Which basically makes me an asshole. A nunchucks-wielding ninja - but an asshole nonetheless. 

I said the Al Chet last night.  I'll say it again several times throughout today.  And I can assure you, when I get to this one:

"For the sin which we have committed before You by wronging a friend"

I will truly be asking for forgiveness. From God. And my friend. I hope that by asking for forgiveness twice I am not pushing my luck. 

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I hope you find peace through your holy day.

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