Image: Sunlight streaming through clouds. (Unsplash/Pixabay)
Every High Holy Days, we recite the words from Parashat Ki Tisa:
Adonai, Adonai, God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy unto the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and pardoning. – Exodus 34:6-7
Known as the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, our ancestors believed that by repeating this passage, the congregation would convince God to indeed be merciful. (RH 17b). Such a “magical formula” is offensive to modern Jews. Surely we cannot manipulate God by reciting a charm!
Therefore it is up to us to strive daily to be “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, pardoning.” This is a tall order indeed, but we are human beings created in the image of God, living in covenant with God. We can bring forgiveness into the world for others and for ourselves by our actions.