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Regret vs. Guilt

“Among Jews, the concept of regret is often confused with the concept of guilt. But they are not the same thing. Guilt can create paralysis; regret creates redefinition. Guilt can be stunting; we beat ourselves up reliving a moment again and again. Regret stretches us to be better, greater versions of ourselves.

The High Holidays enable us to incorporate our regrets into our lives as gratitude and motivation: We’ve learned, we’ve grown, and we continue to become.”

—Charles R. Krivcher, member of Congregation Ohabai Sholom, Nashville, in Welcome to the Front Row

Shofar Blasts: Metaphors of our Lives

“If the blasts of the shofar are meant to remind us of crying (Babylonian Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 33A), then I would offer the following:

There are times when we are like a teruah, terribly broken. We may be suffering physically and not know how we will get well or survive the pain. We may be suffering emotionally. Perhaps we have lost a job or a loved one. We ask, “With all of this pain, does God care about me? Is there even a God?”

And there are times when our pain may seem more manageable. These are the times of shevarim, the three short blasts [of] partial brokenness. I might have lost a loved one, and am now beginning to reconstruct my life.

And then there is the tekiah, the whole note. These are the times when I feel whole, well, in good relationships with others and with God.

This brings us to the last sound of the shofar: the tekiah gedolah, the very long blast. It is the sound of vision, reminding us that wherever we are in our lives, things can become better. We are never to be satisfied with what is, but, rather, to actively seek what ought to be.”

—Rabbi Fred Guttman, Temple Emanuel, Greensboro, North Carolina, in The Shofar Blasts as a Metaphor for Life