This week we begin a season of celebrations and reflections to mark our fortieth birthday as a community.
First of all, we should thank God with a grateful spirit who has kept us alive, preserved us and brought us to the present time.
Secondly, we should be mindful of those who founded our congregation and nurtured it through the difficult years when we went from church to church and hall to hall without our own home, and to all those who in the decades since have willingly accepted responsibilities, with all the pressures, irritations – and appreciation – this entails, so that we have reached the breadth and level of energy, activity, togetherness and diversity we are blessed with today. 
Thirdly, we should remember that we are not only a congregation of the present, but also of the past and the future. There are many no longer alive in body today whose spirits live in our hearts and values, and in the very core and ethic of our community. They continue to speak to us through how they prayed, in what they cared for, and in those they loved, whom we cherish and appreciate in our midst week by week. It is unwise to single out names, but among those who have been chairs of the synagogue or their partners, I think of Ruth Schneider and Paul Shrank, whose tenth Yahrzeit falls this very Shabbat. The Ruth Schneider  Memorial Trust has helped enable hundreds of young people to go to Noam camps and programmes. The Paul Shrank Scholarship, recently established by Selma, provides for a young person to study for a year at the Conservative Yeshivah in Jerusalem, before devoting him or her self to leadership and teaching in the movement. Thus the spirit and values of those who once stood at the heart of our community is transmitted to the future and will enrich the lives of those many children whose buggies every Shabbat line the path to the synagogue in such a delightful way and to whom we collectively carry a deep responsibility for their Jewish future.
Forty represents at once completion and beginning. It is completion, because after forty years of wandering in the desert the Children of Israel finally reach the Promised Land. But, as is always the case, when dreams and visions encounter realities, different, and often harder, challenges emerge: what does being a people, or in our case simply a community, actually mean? How do we agree on what truly matters and act on it? How do we disagree, in the true Jewish manner of debate for the sake of Heaven, and act on what we learn?
Every end, every anniversary is also a fresh beginning. I am always moved by how on Simchat Torah, within three minutes of concluding the final sentence in Deuteronomy we start again with Bereshit, ‘In the beginning’. The journey is never over and our deepest questions remain at the core of our quest, as if we were permitted to be young all over again and see the world as a child sees it, or as God sees it, and know that it is at once both ‘good’, and infinitely challenging. It feels like no accident that this week’s portion is Lech Lecha, when Abram and Sara’s travels, and with them the long journey of the Jewish family, commence. Our exploration begins all over again. ‘Go’ say the mystics, extrapolating on God’s first instruction to Abram, ‘to the land where you find yourself’, your truth, your values and your soul.
It is in relation to this search that I experience most of all my indebtedness to Rabbi Dr Louis Jacobs, may the memory of his righteousness be for a blessing. He brought to that quest incomparable learning coupled with an unbending commitment to truth. He always sought, with vast erudition and unshakeable faith in God, to enable Torah to grapple honestly with reality in all its complexity, understanding that it was this encounter which motivated the Jewish quest and its outcomes which created a traditional, faithful and dynamic Judaism.
I pray that in the coming years God will open and purify our hearts, help us expand our knowledge of Judaism, deepen our practice of and commitment to it, give us the vision, courage and devotion to live faithfully according to our values in every sphere of our lives, enable us to work together with communities of all other faiths and peoples, and protect and bless us, all Israel and all the world with peace.

Then his eyes. They expressed an utter, helpless suffering.

‘Would you like to see the boy?’ ‘Yes’, I said.

There were just two of the children left on the wards at Makassed Hospital who had been brought there from Gaza during the war. The others had all gone home. ‘What was home?’ In many case the authorities at the hospital weren’t sure. ‘They’ve brought in porta-cabins. There are still lots of families living in schools’. As for ongoing care, some of the children come back to Makassed in East Jerusalem for appointments with the agreement of the Israeli authorities. But who was helping the many amputees with rehab? And the families where every second member had lost a limb? Local services, if such things existed. There were no good words about Hamas.

They took me to see Ihab. His brother had been killed in the same explosion which had so badly injured him. It was explained to me that he’d been accepted at the outstanding Re’uth Rehabilitation Hospital in Tel Aviv, where his cousin was already receiving treatment. Her family had somehow managed to get insurance payments for her care. But no one was willing to foot the (large) bill for the boy. In the midst of it all, his uncle arrived (the parents were apparently not allowed into Israel to accompany their son). He’d just launched an appeal on Palestinian radio, but meanwhile the Authority had lost all the boy’s papers.

‘We also sent out an appeal’, said Rami Elchanan of the Bereaved Families Forum, but so far no one had contributed. ‘What about asking people to pay for just one day’, I wondered. The idea was well received: ‘Yes “Pay a day”.’

I went into the room where Ihab lay. I’m always hesitant about visiting people in hospital in case I should be disturbing them or their family. ‘Don’t worry’, I was reassured. ‘He isn’t conscious.’

Ihab lay flat on his bed, a tube connected to his trachea, through which he breathed. The first thing which struck me was his golden hair. Then his eyes. They moved; he was most certainly aware. They expressed an utter, helpless suffering. A small cry came from him. These were all the means at his disposal to communicate an unreachable, unspeakable pain. It seemed he had at present no movement in the rest of his injured body. I looked at him and thought, ‘What would I want if that was my child?’

What does one do? I left the room and whispered to Rami, ‘I’ll take the first day’. Tomorrow I want to go to Reuth Hospital to see his cousin and speak with the doctors. Apparently there’s a lot they can do for Ihab. Maybe there can be some arrangement about the costs.

It’s just possible that this could be a moment of shared healing, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs together. Could it help heal more than Ihab’s lonely sufferings? I wondered. ‘Maybe someday’ I was told.

What would it mean if we really did see each other’s wounds?

Many of the doctors who work at St Josephs, a small hospital next to the Ambassador Hotel and the first to be created on the Jordanian side in 1948, also work at Shaarei Tzedek. Indeed many trained there, or at Hadassah. I asked the consultant who showed me round about the relationships: ‘Yes,’ he assured me, they were professional and warm, with shared concerns for the wellbeing of all the patients. And did any of the Jewish staff also work in the Palestinian Hospitals? No, he thought; but there were many Arab doctors, nurses and above all auxiliary staff and workers, as well as very many Palestinian and Arab patients at the big hospitals in West Jerusalem.

Yet during the war, I was told, tens of people from Gaza, mostly children but certainly all of them young, were sent from the Erez crossing where Israel had built a field hospital, to St Josephs and to El Mokassed. They had terrible injuries, burns, limbs that needed amputation. The consultant described what the hospital had looked like during those weeks, full of patients, their families in every corner, the huge laundry machine working non-stop. ‘How did you feed them all?’ someone enquired. ‘Local people were amazing: “I’ll bring twenty meals, it’s on me”; “I’ll bring thirty meals tonight”. I had witnessed the same generosity and deep concern in hospitals in Beer Sheva and Tel Aviv where wounded soldiers were brought.

Even in those days, it was explained to me, the doctors would go across the city to do their work at Shaarei Tzedek where, of course, they encountered great support for Israel’s response to Hamas. And did the doctors on each ‘side’ see each other’s wounded then? No, he didn’t think so. It’s not surprising: both groups had their deep concerns, for their own safety and that of those they loved, for relatives in the areas where rockets and bombs were falling, for the wounded and bereaved, for the future, for the sick people on their own wards requiring their compassionate attention.

Yet, with a part of myself I thought ‘What a pity’. What would it mean if we really did see each other’s wounds? Would it multiply compassion in the world? Make us more reluctant to inflict hurts on groups of people among whom there were now faces and names we knew? Or would it simply tax our hearts unbearably and leave us feeling even more powerless?

How little we know about one another. Waiting outside the synagogue one morning at half past six, about the only time I’ve ever got there that early, I watched the cleaning teams arrive. We smiled at one another. ‘Where did you travel from?’ I asked a couple of them. ‘The other side of London’. ‘How did you get here?’ ‘By bus’. ‘So when did you have to get up?’ ‘About four’.

What do we know about the lives of other people, with whom we cross paths but virtually never relate? I wonder if God really wants it that way.


I saw my first gentian when I was just four. We’d travelled by train to Switzerland for a holiday and I was sitting in a field with my cousin. I remember thinking even then that the deep, pure blue of the gentian was beautiful, and I certainly think so now.
My parents brought me up to appreciate beauty in the natural world. Watching a small bird glance this way and that deciding whether to dare to fly to the feeder; noticing the fallen crab apples in the cold October grass: these simple sights offer not only an external source of interest but an inner companionship as well, a sharing of life’s very rhythm and vitality. Deprive a person of the sound of leaves, the shade of trees, the sight of the sky, the comfort of the colour green, and you half-starve their heart of God’s presence. Maimonides saw in the love of the natural world the first steps towards the love of God, as if we were allowed to look at creation for just a moment through God’s eyes and see that it is good.
Then, just a week after the story of creation in the ceaseless cycle of Torah readings, five columns later in the scroll itself, comes the great destruction. The word ‘bad’ appears for the first time: “For great was the evil of humankind upon the earth, and the drive of their hearts’ thoughts was bad all day long” (Bereshit 6:5). The waters rise mercilessly over all that wonderful creation in which God had so recently rejoiced, obliterating every living thing.
There is a small instruction, just a footnote, in the Tikkun or guide used by those who prepare to chant from the Torah. It concerns the words ‘vayetze Noach – Noah went out of the ark’: ‘Sing them extensively’ it reads. But when Noah finally emerges from that ark, the first ever seed and gene-bank in which every species has been stored on God’s instruction, Noah doesn’t sing. Neither does he speak. Even God’s promise of a rainbow elicits no response. Silently he plants vines and gets drunk. He has nothing to say to God. In the remaining three hundred years of his life he opens his mouth just once, to curse.
When my grandfather returned to Frankfurt, eleven years after he fled in 1939, he found the city with its alleyways full of rubble and its shattered windows open to the sky, virtually unrecognisable. How much more so must the desolate earth have seemed so to Noah! Is this bare mud, he must have thought, where the deer used to graze? Is that where the crows once flocked in the tops of the tall trees? Did my neighbours used to live here? He must have died devoured by mourning, a lonely, haunted man.
No part of the Bible frightens me as much as the story of the flood. What eats at me isn’t only fear; it’s a kind of anguish, as if one might be about to lose, slowly but irretrievably, all the people one most deeply loves, without whose companionship one’s own life is inconceivable. This earth, this beautiful world, God’s world, – we don’t want to lose it. We want our children and children’s children, everybody’s children and children’s children to rejoice in it.
That’s why I believe that alongside caring for the hungry and the homeless, while not neglecting the fight against Ebola and other diseases, we must plant trees, protect and regrow forests, keep pesticides and poisons out of our land and water, protect insects, fishes, birds and mammals and curb the wasteful heedlessness of how we live. What protects the earth saves human lives as well.
That’s why I believe we should plant and grow, understand the love of soil and seed, and root our spirituality in the earth about which the Torah tells us that God saw it, blessed it, declared it good and placed it in our trust.

A different kind of shadow

I saw a different kind of shadow yesterday evening. It wasn’t the kind of shadow the kabbalists tell us to look for in a moon-lit field on the holy night of Hoshana Rabba, the final night of the festival of Succot. If your shadow is full, it will be a year of blessings, they say, no doubt basing themselves on the 121st Psalm, ‘God is your shadow’, and its mystical interpretation, ‘God shadows you: as you behave towards others, so does God behave towards you.’

We showed a film at the synagogue yesterday evening about destitute asylum seekers. Everyone in the room was shaken. The life of a refugee is harsh enough: terror for one’s life, fear for one’s family, total uncertainty about the future, loss of the entire familiar past. But what shocked us was the further misery placed on those already harsh lives; slavery (literally), massive bills from the National Health Service; endless delays in the processing of applications, during which time it is not allowed to work. ‘How do you feed your family?’ ‘What do you do with yourself?’ ‘How do you pay for anything?’ One of the women featured in the film, who’d come to answer questions, simply put her hands over her face and wept.

The world should see that film. I would like to sit the government (and not just of this country) down in front of that screen. But it isn’t possible; vulnerable lives are exposed.

The shadow of that film follows me, as the shadows of many kinds of inequality, injustice and suffering follow us all, if we turn and look.

Jewish tradition holds that on this day of Hoshana Rabba we revert from the festival salutation Chag Sameach, ‘Happy Holyday’, to the greeting for the Day of Atonement, Gmar Chatimah Tovah, ‘May you be sealed for good in the book of life’. After today, the books of destiny are closed for the coming year. The Talmud itself doesn’t take the idea literally, nor must we. But it is a forceful enjoinder to write ourselves into the kind of life we wish and intend to lead. How much room will it have for pity and compassion? Who among those around us will we see, and whom will we fail to notice? What will we care about, and about what will we not be troubled to care? What will be the compass of our moral imagination, our heart’s concern?

The prayers for this morning are a powerful litany punctuated by the constantly repeated injunction Hoshana, ‘Save!’ and embracing the entirety of life:
Save those who cry out to you, those who rise early to pray to you at dawn;
Save humankind and the animals, body, soul and spirit;
Save those formed and woven in your image;
Save life-giving trees, shrubs and plants and flowers.
There is much we cannot accomplish and for which we can only pray. But it has never been the religious way to mistake entrusting the world to God’s care for abandoning our own responsibilities.

What and who can we help write in the book of good life?

Shadow of faith

If only the whole world were a big Succah!

To dwell in the Succah (and ‘dwell’ really means dwell: you take your best plates and cups, all your meals, and even your sleep in the Succah) you have to be at peace.

‘God will hide me in the Succah in the day of evil’, reads the Psalm (27:5) On the face of it the reasoning seems less than compelling. Throughout history people have built fortresses and castles, rather than huts and booths, for protection in the hour of trouble. Along what formerly disputed borders do you find the ruins of old Succahs? One wouldn’t have thought a Succah, with its makeshift walls and permeable roof, was a good hiding place either, not from hostile eyes nor from friendly rain. Yet it is specifically a Succah which constitutes God’s place of safety. Maybe that’s because to live in a Succah and eat your meals, let alone sleep, there, you have to trust not only the Lord in heaven but your neighbours next door, and next door-but-one. Why otherwise would you choose such a vulnerable place to expose yourself to the mercies of others if it weren’t for a deep trust in safety and peace? If that is our reality today, we are lucky; whatever the case, it remains our enduring hope for everybody and always.

Equally important for the Succah is co-operative co-existence with nature. The sechach, or roofing materials, have to be made of products grown from the earth. The Torah describes the festival as be-ospecha migornecha umiyikvecha ‘when you gather from your threshing floor and wine-press’, meaning not only that it takes place at the time when you bring in the harvest, but also that the Succah itself (at least the roof) must be made out of the very produce you take from your granary and wine-press, such as stalks of corn and leaves from the vine. Further, it is an age-old custom to decorate the Succah with fruits and vegetables, even wine skins and bags of flour. ‘We had every possible kind of fruit in season’ Mavis Hyman* told me, recalling fondly the wonderful Succahs her family used to construct on the balcony overhanging the street where she grew up in Calcutta. For myself, as I eagerly scan the seed catalogues and choose what vegetables to (attempt to) grow, I carefully bear in mind what will look beautiful in the Succah. Especially in theshemittah, or sabbatical, year, when the fences are taken down and even the animals, both domestic and wild, may come and eat from the fruits of our fields, Succot is a time of harmony between humanity and nature, a time for appreciation and thanksgiving as we share the blessings of the earth. Maybe that’s what drew the fox into our Succah some years ago, when, coming in from spending the night there, the children reported with delight that it had stayed to play for almost half an hour, even tugging at their hair. The Succah reminds us to cherish the earth and all its creatures.

Not least, the Succah is a place to be at peace with oneself and one’s own life. ‘To everything there is a season’ wrote Ecclesiastes, whose words we read on the Shabbat in the middle of the festival. The Succah invites us to consider with thankfulness and equanimity the passing years of our own life.

It’s not for nothing that the mystics call the Succah tsila de’meheimanuta, the shade or shadow of faith.

May God spread the Succah of peace over us all and within us all, over all Israel, all nations, all nature and all the world.

Towards Yom Kippur 5

Yom Kippur is Yom Hadin, the Day of Judgement, when the world and the deeds of all who live in it are scrutinized. But it is also a day of chesed verachamim, mercy and compassion, on which we ask for our hearts to be opened to a deeper love and understanding of our family and friends, neighbours and fellow citizens, the world and life itself.

There is a profound difference between a Day of Judgement and a day of punishment. I have never believed literally that God examines our deeds and allots us our portion in clear and just accord with what we have done. I find it cruel and blasphemous to claim that the person who suffers a terrible accident, illness or disaster deserves their fate.

But the idea of a day on which the world is judged remains essential and chastening. According to ancient rabbinic legend, it was Cain who claimed, in contradiction to his brother Abel, that ‘There is no Judge and no judgement’, before murdering him and then dismissing God’s accusation with a shrug of ‘I don’t know’ and I don’t care.

There is nothing more urgent than that we as individuals, faiths, nations, and as a species, consider and take to heart the violence and cruelty of our world. Terror, fear and injustice rule many domains. Perhaps we see them as mainly, mercifully, occurring elsewhere. But the rich world is not innocent with regard to the turmoil of parts of the poorer world. Cruelty and brutality, while remaining the unmitigated responsibility of those who perpetrate them, may also in some manner be symptoms of civilisations which have not been as faithful as they should to their professed creeds of justice, equality, integrity, compassion and peace.

We cannot blame on others the heedlessness with which we so often treat the natural world, God’s world, life of our life and oxygen of our breath. What will happen to our children and grandchildren if we fail to take account? If not now, when?

We need not just a Day of Judgement but rather ongoing good, firm and just judgement, and we need it urgently here on earth, whatever may happen in heaven.

But Yom Kippur is also a day about love. Its leitmotif, its most repeated refrain, describes God as rachum vechanun, merciful and gracious. It is a day on which we are called upon to show generosity and humility towards others, and ourselves, by seeking and yielding forgiveness and understanding and healing bruised bonds of comradeship and affection. It is a day on which we are asked to allow resentment and rancour to dissolve in the awareness that life is too precious, too short and too important for us to waste our spirit on bitterness and hatred. It is a day whose beauty has the power to re-awaken our hearts to the wonder and privilege of life, so that our reverence and joy are restored and we see once again the trees clap their hands and the mountains sing with joy.

What is the balance between judgement and mercy? The Talmud records the legend of how, when Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha, who served as High Priest, entered the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, he heard God ask him: ‘Ishmael, my son, bless me.’ Not for a moment nonplussed, he replied, ‘May your mercies overcome your just angers and may you act towards your children with compassionate love.’

May this be a year when mercy overcomes violence and compassion melts anger; a year of healing, understanding, blessing and peace, for us, for all Israel and for the whole world.

Towards Yom Kippur 4

It’s hard to apologise and it’s difficult to let go of hurts. Maybe that is why the Shulchan Aruch rules (Orach Chaim 606) that ‘on the eve of Yom Kippur we must make peace with one another’, reminding us that ‘Concerning sins between person and person Yom Kippur does not effect atonement unless one has made up with them’. The idea is not that we should reserve our apologies and keep our quarrels burning until the last night before Yom Kippur, but rather that if we have been unable to bring ourselves to do so until that moment, this is the time to make our peace.

The basic principle is simple: we cannot seek atonement and expect God to forgive us if we have not at least tried to put right the wrongs we’ve done each other. There is no such thing as taking a shortcut past those persons we’ve hurt in the (false) assumption that God will wipe our conscience clean.

There are occasions when we are only too ready to admit that we’ve been wrong. If we see in the face of someone for whom we really care that what we’ve just done has inadvertently really hurt them, there will be nothing in our heart more urgent than to heal the sorrow we’ve engendered.

But often it’s hard to apologise. We have to recognise and admit out loud that we’ve been wrong. (The Shulchan Aruch insists that, unless it would upset the other person, we need to be specific in our apologies, not just waive a general ‘sorry’ branch.) We need to face the fact that we’ve caused pain. We need the humility to concede that we, too, make mistakes and say and do things which are not right.

Sadly, society often makes it harder to apologise. The motor insurance slogan ‘Never admit fault’ has spread far beyond the roadside. If we apologise, are we going to risk being sued, considered generally incompetent, or made to lose face before others? This encourages self-justification, which is a natural tendency, but dangerous if it penetrates the soul.

Nevertheless, most of us want to feel at peace with each other; we wish to carry neither the burden of guilt at having hurt others, nor that of anger and resentment at having been injured ourselves. Yet what if there is no one to apologise too? If the person we have hurt is no longer alive says the Shulchan Aruch, go to their grave and confess in the presence of a minyan, a quorum of ten, who then respond ‘You are pardoned and forgiven’. But I’ve never met anyone who has actually done this. And what happens if we’ve lost contact with the person we hurt? Or if what gnaws at our conscience may long have been forgotten by them, or they never knew in the first place that we’d hurt them? We are not entitled to unburden ourselves at the cost of further suffering to the other party. In these situations we can only talk truth in our heart, perhaps share our anguish with a trusted fried, and tell God. There may also be acts we tragically commit for which the burden of responsibility and guilt cannot quickly be removed, and for which we may suffer. Even then, though, we are taught to believe in the power of inner remorse and change.

If it’s hard to apologise, it can be even more difficult to forgive. Again, often we want to do so: the relationship matters far more than the offence, of which we are quickly ready to let go. But what if we’ve really been hurt, if we’ve been bad mouthed, or betrayed? There are many matters in life which take more than the twelve months between one Yom Kippur and the next to digest, let alone pardon.

Nevertheless, there are two matters to bear in mind. Mechilah, ‘pardoning’, does not mean forgiving and forgetting, unless the matter was trivial (as so many of the things we get upset about actually are.) Rather, it entails acceptance of what has occurred, and the readiness to move from anger and blame to an attitude of shared learning from the experience. What happened is still there in the history and reality of the relationship, but we have moved from resentment, or suspicion, or alienation, towards the endeavour of healing.

Secondly, just as we don’t want to be burdened with guilt, we don’t want to end up being weighed down, or worse, inwardly poisoned, by bitterness. We may have been deeply wounded and unjustly treated, deliberately by other persons, or by God or life itself through the portion we’ve been dealt. But it matters for our own sake to try eventually to forgive life in so far as we can. There are few endeavours which are harder.

May we find the courage, humility and generosity of spirit to be at peace with one another as we stand before God this Yom Kippur, and through the years ahead.

Towards Yom Kippur 3

One of my favourite Hasidic works is the Netivot Shalom, ‘the Paths of Peace’, by the late Rebbe of Slonim. Ever since I was given a copy by a friend a few years ago its words have kept me company in the days of preparation for the High Holydays. The first teaching on Yom Kippur is about conscience. The Netivot Shalom begins by quoting the prophet Jeremiah: ‘For this I judge you, for saying “I have not sinned”. It is one matter, he argues, if at the very time of committing the act, or at least in a flood of sorrow immediately afterwards, we know that we are or have been doing wrong. Then we are already on the path of regret and apology and can anticipate God’s forgiveness. It’s quite another if we experience no stirrings of conscience whatsoever: ‘If even after the folly and desire which caused us to commit the act has left us, we feel no promptings whatsoever of remorse in our heart and kidneys’, then for that, he says, God does indeed enter into judgement with us.

We all do wrongs of which we swiftly become aware. No one of can avoid saying hurtful words and committing harmful acts, especially the former. An angry reaction, spiteful comment, or clever but targeted witticism emerges from our mouth before we even think of its effects. Afterwards we struggle with what we’ve gone and said. It’s always a temptation to exculpate ourselves by going over the circumstances and telling ourselves that ‘if she had not said this, then I wouldn’t have said that’, or that we didn’t mean it badly, or didn’t quite say it in the manner in which it was so unjustly misinterpreted. Perhaps we really were only partially to blame; after all, life is complicated. But somewhere in our heart we know: we did it; we said it; we wouldn’t be trying so hard to reframe it if it wasn’t bothering our conscience. We now need to think of what to do next. We need to apologise. If that is not possible or, as in some situations, not appropriate, we are left to find the inner resolve not to do likewise again. This is never easy, and I hope to reflect more about it tomorrow.

But there are also sins which we don’t even realise are wrong or categorise as such. I’m not thinking so much of details of Jewish law concerning which we might not have been aware in the first place, as of ingrained behaviours and habits of our society which pass as broadly acceptable. Few people say they’re wrong, so why should we be seriously troubled if we simply go along with the majority.

There is the issue of how we treat the inarticulate world of nature, which has no money to place on the bargaining table and lacks those immediate powers of persuasion in the name of self-interest which often enable people to win elections. There is the question of suffering we cause but never see, such as the kinds of injustice, maltreatment or environmental degradation caused in some far-off place as a result of what we buy round the corner. I rarely consider these matters sins, and if I do, I usually push them away with the thought that after all I can’t do much about them.

How do we change those behaviours, which may ultimately determine our destiny, if we don’t account them as wrong? In the end we need the awareness of our sins, not so that they make us feel bad and persecute us with guilt, but so that they can become our teachers.

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