Tuesday, September 15, 2009

God be merciful to me, a sinner!

The week before Rosh Hashanah, it is custom to say special selichot, or penitential prayers, as part of preparing our hearts for the holidays. At certain points during these prayers, it is customary to strike one's chest with one's fist as a symbol of remorse.

This reminds me of the parable told by Yeshua about the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14):

[Yeshua] also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

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