L’Shana Tovah

I’m not sure what I think about making amends over Livejournal. While it can lead to beautiful poetry and meaningful, profound self-reflection, is it really want G-d intended – for us to confess our shortcomings and failures as human beings in cyberspace. It seems so impersonal, even when the words are deeply personal.

I had this conversation with someone the other day – her ex-husband wants to make amends as part of AA’s 12 steps, and they decided it makes sense to wait until they are in the same room next in order to do this. To apologize and seek forgiveness without facing people face to face seems to lack something.

On the other hand, it is better than not doing it at all, and so often what I realize on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is how easy it is to err and hurt without intending, without realizing who you’ve even hurt. Lashon ha’ra, aka gossip, is like that. And it’s so hard not to do it, without thinking. Out of frustration, out of seeking community, out of outrage at injustice, I say negative things about other people, without realizing the impact. The harder I try, the more I understand why it is proscribed over and over and over again throughout the Torah.

Another year, another chance to be a better person – a better spouse, a better friend, a better citizen, a better co-worker…it’s an endless battle against ourselves.


~ by realsupergirl on September 22, 2006.

5 Responses to “L’Shana Tovah”

  1. I see a lot of different things going on. The act of composing something like I did of course contains a goal of satisfying one’s self on an aesthetic impulse, even if it does come out of soul searching. Probably it involves some sort of safety measure while doing a thing that feels risky. I never claimed that it covers my accounts, but I wouldn’t judge others’ lj interactions based on my own feelings about my experience posting. It’s pretty dangerous to head into ‘what G-d intended’ ground.

    There are people who have very real friendships that occurred solely over this medium. I want to caution considering “cyberspace” just one particular dimension or level (and that particular word is really just an intellectual construct; not that I’m a scholar in that area, but using it rather abstracts the relationships that are being created an maintained here).

    It is only a format, and it is what you make of it, which is different for different people. I have the same problem when people talk about “online courses” as if they were all one thing. Online is just a format; some courses are spectacular, transformative experiences, and some are duds, like courses in a classroom, depending on the preparation, context, and facilitation of those giving the course and those taking it. It has little to do with the format itself but with how you use it.

    Throughout the ages, the idea of repeating a liturgy out of a printed book — the Passover haggadah being one clear example, the retelling of the Exodus originally being a freeform discussion — could seem empty and derivative compared to the intended exercise of extemporaneous speech. (The Torah service for centuries was interspersed with comments by a translator/interpreter rather than standing on its own) The ancient Psalms show that recording profound thoughts in contemporary media vs. making them up on the spot or creating them while face to face has been occurring for as long as there were words and the means to record them. But if you go to services, are you going to protest the use of books?

    So, different strokes for different folks — whether a clay tablet or a keyboard. In the sense that G*d made any of them, G*d made them all and I’d consider them equally valid. Which is not to say you can’t prefer a different one, but to say that in this instance I don’t see anything useful coming out of trying to make a generalization or select some kind of original or natural intent.

  2. Of course, the key thing anyway is the behavior that follows.

  3. It’s all relative, you know? You have this community, here, in cyberspace (or whatever it is we’re calling it these days). And, even though some of your interactions with this community might happen in rl, many of them don’t. So, it seems fitting to make amends with your lj community here.

    I’m guessing that you’ll make amends with kaphine using a different medium. The words are personal. Your friendship is very meaningful to me, even though we talk on the phone seldomly and see each other less. Sometimes the message is the message.

  4. No, you’re right of course. And I meant no offense. Your words were beautiful – they read almost as a prayer. And there’s no reason why LJ can’t serve that function, I suppose, it just feels weird to me to see it serving that function.

  5. I make a point to try and not do “anything that matters” electronically except as necessary, and then to choose “high-touch” technology such as the telephone. Face-time or hand-written stuff is just cleaner for me, and I try to keep it that way. Then there is the whole public-private thang which I encounter in my own experience with therapeutic techniques such as the Intensive Journal Method. Any time I “publish” (even by reading aloud in the presence of others) it becomes presentation and display to some extent, which can either deepen or cheapen its authenticity, depending on the piece.

    One the general subject of betterment and battle, a friend recenty lent me a book called The Spirituality of Imperfection which looks at AA as a spiritual path whose focus is on admitting “shortcomings” (not sin) and accepting them to become better. Interesting stuff to be sure.

    Good new year.

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