Accepting the Unacceptable

Yom Kippur is known as the "Day of Unconditional Acceptance," when G-d forgives & accepts us, but what do that actually mean?  Aren't there limits to how much we (or G-d) can accept?  Everything has limits, including acceptance!

Every once in a while, we read stories about someone who was in the dumps, and was uplifted by a teacher, friend, boss or "angel".  Many times, these are people who have failed, ended up in prison, or made other serious mistakes in life.  They recall being ignored because of their past failures, until some special person saw in them what no one else saw.  "It was that belief in me and unconditional acceptance that gave me the strength to achieve" is what they'll recall.  

Indeed, the nonbelievers had good reason to not believe and reject.  This person was a failure!  Judging by their actions, this person was "undeserving" of attention, a second chance, or a helping hand.  

This doesn't even have to be a prisoner.  We all know kids or people who just have a hard time.  Some people are blessed with a high IQ, people skills, business acumen, talent & common sense.  They are the succeeders in life, who are charismatic and fun to be around.  Then you'll meet the people who just have a "bad portion" in life.  They aren't as smart and aren't fun to be around. 

Parents also find this phenomenon with their children.  It's easy to gravitate towards and cater to the naturally gifted child, not out of favoritism, but because it's fulfilling to give to someone who accepts, appreciates and reciprocates our gestures.  They do well in school, are more helpful at home, get along with their siblings better.  They bring us pride.

To nurture the successful child is natural and easy, but it's the struggling child who needs it most!  It takes real work to find the good in the child who struggles in school, isn't helpful, gets on everyone's nerves and bring the parents "fear of being judged."  It's so easy to fall into a routine of nagging, sarcasm, losing patience and shunning, not because we don't love them, but because they're difficult!

There are special people in the world who can see beyond achievements and into a person's soul, see a beautiful person with great potential, and help raise that person up.

Can I be that parent who will make my own "underprivileged child"  feel valuable & celebrated, not just when and because they achieve, but because of who they are?  Can I find it within myself to celebrate a child unworthy of being celebrated? 

I don't know if I have the strength on my own, but on Yom Kippur, G-d teaches me how & gives me the strength, because that's exactly what He does for me.

Yom Kippur is the day when G-d forgives us, not because we have done well, or even "repented" sincerely.  G-d forgives us because He sees something in us that no one else sees.  It's a perfect & beautiful soul.  G-d believes in us, and can overlook our past mistakes and shortcomings because He sees in us what no one else sees. 

G-d accepts us for who we are, and not just for what we've done.

He's going to seal us for a good year, not based on virtue, and not based on "repentance."  He's going to seal us for a good year because of "us", and nothing else.  I hope in turn, I'll muster to strength to emulate G-d, and accept the people in my life who need it most.

Good Shabbos & may we all be sealed for good, 

Rabbi Yonasan & Natanya Abrams


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