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Al Chet

Martin Buber tells the story of the great Hasidic Rabbi Zusya (Rabbi Zusya of Hanipol). On his deathbed he began to cry uncontrollably and his students and disciples tried hard to comfort him. They asked him, “Rabbi, why do you weep? You are almost as wise as Moses, you are almost as hospitable as Abraham, and surely heaven will judge you favourably.”

Zusya answered them: “It is true. When I get to heaven, I won’t worry so much if God asks me, ‘Zusya, why were you not more like Abraham?’ or ‘Zusya, why were you not more like Moses?’  I know I would be able to answer these questions.  After all, I was not given the righteousness of Abraham or the faith of Moses but I tried to be both hospitable and thoughtful.  But what will I say when God asks me, ‘Zusya, why were you not more like Zusya?’

As the High Holidays approach, we are reminded that life is a process of becoming fully ourselves. Throughout the Days of Awe, we may ask ourselves if we have been true to that process, and if not, where we made less than life-affirming choices for ourselves and in our interpersonal relationships.   

Between now and Kol Nidre, gently consider the ways in which you have sometimes chosen to do the wrong thing and then complete each card as described below.  To communally join in expressing these acts, please fill out the form below.

Finally, as we each seek forgiveness for these acts, let us remember the words of the Mishna: 

.עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבֵּין אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ, אֵין יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים מְכַפֵּר, עַד שֶׁיְּרַצֶּה אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ
For brokenness between people and God, Yom Kippur is a day of repair.  However, for brokenness between people, Yom Kippur is not a day of repair until they seek each other out to make teshuvah.  (Mishnah, Yoma 8:9)

Submit your Al Chet confessions online here or print a .pdf paper form HERE, scan/photograph it, and email it to


Mon, May 20 2024 12 Iyyar 5784