We did what was expected, we smiled and begged forgiveness. Of course none of us asked for forgiveness from our enemies; what could be more crass than putting someone on the spot like that? But we did politely beg all our best friends’ pardon and added at least one ‘surprising’ choice just to prove how very good we're being. So when we stepped up to Kol Nidre, feeling almost proud of our humility, we shed our genuine tears with saintly servility.
No matter that some family of sods sitting further back near the door happen to be watching their lives go down the toilet. “Who knew better than me how they had it coming to them? After all if they had listened to me in the first place they would never have been in this ‘shtuch’. If they would have asked my advice they would have done the right thing in the beginning and none of all this would have happened. But they had to be clever. They have to do things their own way. Nu! They did it their own way, so now we ordinary folks can shrug our shoulder and say “Sorry Mate, yer own bleedin fault!” and then turn back to our humble haughteur.
“Oh and just look at those Plimsolls on that child. If my children went out in shoes like that I’d… Something really should be done about that father. He seems to have a child every year and he doesn’t earn enough to buy shoes for them. Actually I should speak to Whatshisname about that. We should be thinking about paying him more. He will leave him Ch”V and it will cost us a whole lot more. Anyway, the kids need to have shoes.
Hey, what am I doing? Thinking business again, I am supposed to be thinking of tshuve”. The mind shifts back into its puritan pride.
It’s true that we don’t all have management positions or the power enough to hurt others directly. Those of us who don’t, often don’t have the ability to help those who got hurt either. But we, all of us, know we are ignoring something. We all know there is a little something that really should be done… Kol Nidre does not absolve us of that. You cannot be sitting in the same building as another whom you know to be crying out for help and ignore their call while you beg for yourself.
“Still, I do believe I did rather a lot of good this year and though I will, of course, show just the right amount of genuine remorse over the course of the coming day I don’t really feel He has any reason to show anything more than a token resistance before awarding me the full set of social benefits as befits a person of my rank.” You consider to yourself in your reasonable righteousness.
“Anyway, it’s good that that I managed to avoid ‘him there’ when he was doing the rounds of his forgiveness. Imagine if we had suddenly met face to face? Actually I am a bit surprised he feels happy going to Kol Nidre without having my forgiveness. Some people have a nerve! In his place I would never contemplate going towards Yom Kippur without having even tried to get my forgiveness. I wouldn’t give it of course. How could I? It would be like saying he was right all along. I couldn’t even! It would be like stabbing my own family in the back. I don’t even think He would want such forgiveness. But he should have asked. Shoyn, we can’t all be menschen. I have to continue with my complacent complaint."
And to think they say we have to learn to integrate!