Right now we’re in the middle of the Days of Awe, the stretch of time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when Jews are asking forgiveness. Not of God, but of each other. Because God can’t forgive you for the mean things you’ve done to other people. Only the people you’ve harmed can forgive you.
Good common sense.
I always enjoy it, this forgiving. Also the mulling and the brooding. I like going back over my year and thinking about what I might’ve done differently. And this year, I find that I owe an unexpected apology to someone I don’t even know.
Sarah Palin, I’m sorry-
Really, I mean this sincerely. I do.
There is no sin in disliking a person, Sarah. I’m allowed to disagree with you, and I certainly don’t have to vote for you. In fact, you stand for pretty much everything I think is wrong with America, and gender, and faith. I like polar bears and choice. I don’t think Bristol should get married. But that isn’t my business and it doesn’t make it okay for me to trash you.
Trashing you is, in fact, a sin. We Jews call it Lashon Hara. The sin of gossip-not to be confused with the sin of slander. Slander is when you lie. Lashon Hara is the telling of true, but disparaging, statements about someone not present to defend herself.
And man, have I been ranting about you for the last few months.
Now, this is the spot in the commentary where I’d normally turn my earnest piece into something kind of snarky. But I’m not going to do that. Because I want you to believe me. I really really do. I mean what I’m saying. I’m sorry.
You’re a woman, a person. You have a baby who wakes up in the night, just like my baby wakes up. Maybe you read mean blogs about yourself, nursing your baby at the keyboard, and feel bad. God, that must be awful!
Maybe you have wild post-partum swings. Maybe your other kids are feeling neglected. I bet there are days when you question the choices you’ve made. That’s not easy, I know. It’s hard to be a woman in the world today, hard to balance family and career. Hard to sacrifice the privacy of loved ones for a public life.
And even though you’ve chosen the spotlight, and even though reporters have the right to discuss your record, that doesn’t mean I need to be talking smack about another working mother’s personal life. You don’t need to be what I talk about at dinner. Or blog about cruelly.
See, I really do want to believe in hope. I want things to change. And part of that is wanting you and John, and Barack and Joe to rise above the mudslinging. I don’t want to hear about Bristol any more than I want to hear about Barack’s madrassa. But if I’m going to cross my fingers and say a prayer and expect YOU not to engage in Lashon Hara-
Well, change starts at home, right?
So here I am today, sincerely, truly, asking for your forgiveness. Hoping I can start my new year right. Change some of my own bad habits, whatever you may choose to do.
Good luck, Sarah, with everything. I don’t want you to win this race, but if you do, I wish you strength and vision. Whatever happens, this is going to be a big season in your life.
L’shana tova, Sarah. May you be inscribed for a sweet new year.
Laurel Snyder is a contributing editor to KtB, the editor of Half/Life: Jew-ish Tales from Interfaith Homes, and the author of a poetry collection, The Myth of the Simple Machines. She’s also written several books for children, including the forthcoming title, Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher. She lives online at LaurelSnyder.com.