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Points of View
A Clean Slate
My Point of View--1996
© Rabbi Jack Moline

Among the opportunities presented by the High Holy Days is the chance to begin anew. We spend much time asking God for forgiveness, to wipe away out sins and to allow us to start the year with a clean slate. But is it really what we want?

I found out the hard way that a clean slate is not always a positive thing.

Please donít lecture me on backing up my computer files when I tell you this: I accidentally erased my entire calendar from October 20, 1996 forward. The practical result for all of you is this: if you have an appointment of any kind with me after October 20, including weddings, unveilings and the like, please call the office and re-enter them with me or Naomi. I apologize for any inconvenience and promise to honor all commitments to the very best of my ability.

The only advantage in what I so foolishly did is the lesson I learned from it. Much of what we wish to erase in our lives has value in terms of the orientation it gives us. What we hope for is forgiveness, not forgetting. In fact, the last thing we need is forgetting; the wisdom we accumulate from our experiences, be they positive or negative, is the fuel we need to grow spiritually and intellectually.

In a peculiar way, I have a small understanding of the afflictions of the mind which affect us as we grow older. When the ravages of medication or disease erase the necessary acumen to face future challenges, the initial sense of panic and its longer-term partner, frustration, can shake a personís world to the core. In a much more poignant and significant way than my inconvenient situation, the knowledge that there are places to be and things to do which are unknown leaves the sufferer in a perpetual state of anxiety and despair. It is essential to accept the patient direction of others.

So when we ask for a clean slate, remember that it is a limited request. We ask that our opportunities, not our experiences, be renewed.

Now, if you will excuse me, I must back up this file.

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