The Sacrificial Chicken (Yom Kippur 5776)
by Dr. David Mandler
I haven’t asked anyone to forgive me this year.
Not because I’ve thought about or done
The right things all year–
I spent too much time on
Facebook and writing poetry
Talking at the world while
Failing to connect with and refusing to hear
The muffled sounds of my caged love songs.
I spent too little time listening with my heart
To my wife’s daily musings and nightly longings,
To the pleas of the homeless in the subway cars,
Thinking my feel-good quarter’s gift to them was enough.
I spent no time at all in a hospital ward
Visiting the sick, or feeding the hungry
In a homeless shelter filled with ruined lives
Hidden from me
Only because I had no desire to find it.
Forgive me, everyone!
I can’t be silent when I see inhumanity,
Even if it’s perpetrated on the enemy of my people,
Even if it’s directed against those who,
In happier times, would gladly
Celebrate my death as a victory.
But I know, not all of “them” are like “that.”
And if you all forgive me for all of my failings and sins,
Whether they be open or hidden,
Loud or mute,
Searing your skin as molten lava
Or freezing your blood as liquid ice,
Then I can ask the Master of the Universe
To forgive me
For being late
From synagogue almost every time
And glossing over words I don’t understand and
Have no time to articulate with serene concentration.
Forgive me for being on Facebook too much
And writing poetry only a handful of people
Will ever read.
Forgive me for not asking you for forgiveness
I’m a sacrificial chicken laden with
Other people’s sins to be slaughtered and made into
Chicken soup for the destitute.