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Forgiving Willow: A High Holidays Tale

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On Rosh Hashanah fate is written
On Yom Kippur the Book of Life is sealed:
Who shall live and who shall die;
Who shall see ripe age, and who shall be cut down;
Who shall perish by fire, and who by water;
Who by sword and who by wild beast;
Who by hunger and who by thirst;
Who by earthquake and who by plague;
Who by strangling and who by stoning.
Who will become poor and who will become wealthy;
Who will be humbled and who will be exalted
But repentance, prayer, and righteous deeds
annul the harshness of the decree.


I stand by the bank of the river, re-enacting the ancient rite of Tashlich. I empty my pockets and throw the contents into the river, symbolically casting my sins into the water. The other members of my synagogue have breadcrumbs in their pockets to hurl into the river.

I, however, have a whole loaf of bread.

It is Rosh Hashana, the birthday of the world. On this day, 5762 years ago, or so my people believe, the world was created. It is Rosh Hashana, when the sound of the shofar, the ram's horn blown like a trumpet, summons the people to repent. It is Rosh Hashana, the first day of the Jewish High Holy Days, when Jews ask forgiveness for their sins.

I look around at my fellow Jews blithely tossing their sins into the water. She cheated on a test. He lied to his boss.

I… I killed a man.

He cheated on his wife. She shoplifted.

I… I tried to kill others, even my friends when they tried to stop me.

She misreported her income on her taxes. He double-billed a customer.

I… I almost destroyed the world.

I remain standing, tossing in my bread, long after the rabbi and the others have left. How can I be forgiven? Surely my sins are too great for mere repentance no matter how many cookies I bake, no matter how much I seek to make restitution.

I stand by the bank of the river, but a part of me is still murdering in the forest, attacking in the Magic Box, and seeking to end everything at the temple of Proserpexa.

It is Rosh Hashanah. One week before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish Year. The one day when a Jew kneels before God, Our Father, Our King to ask forgiveness.

I remember the Rabbi's speech. Before we can seek forgiveness from God, we must seek forgiveness from those we have wronged. Remembering, I leave the riverbank and begin looking for my friends for the first time since fleeing to England in the wake of Tara's death and my rampage through Sunnydale.

It is time for repentance. It is time for prayer. It is time for good deeds.

It is time to see if my friends can forgive. For only then can I be cleansed.

Only then can I forgive myself.