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How Dare You Ask!

How Dare You Ask!

Ki Anu Amecha

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Our G‑d and G‑d of our fathers, pardon us, forgive us, grant us atonement -- for we are Your people and You are our God; we are Your children and You are our Father…

What makes a request inappropriate? Is it the nature of what you are asking for or from whom you are doing the asking?

If you were to need a large sum of money -- say a few thousand dollars -- in order to buy a car or to pay your child’s tuition or get your creditors off your back, would you call the top fifty wealthiest people in the country expecting them to have pity on you, or would you call a trusted friend or relative who is certainly not nearly as rich but much more likely to feel for your plight? It’s not just that asking the billionaire is impractical. It’s inappropriate. What relationship does he have with you that warrants your advances?

What if you were to suffer a major setback in life, G‑d forbid? Something went very wrong and you’re feeling hurt. You need someone to talk to, a literal shoulder to cry on. Should you ask the newspaper vendor who you pass everyday on the way to work? Or how about the neighbor down the hall to whom you’ve been waiting to introduce yourself? Or should you bare your soul to a parent, a sibling, a spouse? Again, it’s not just that the newspaper vendor or the down-the-hall neighbor would be unable to comfort you. It’s that asking them to do so is inappropriate.

On Yom Kippur, we ask G‑d to give us life and happiness and a fresh start. What gives us the bravado to make such grandiose a request? It is that our request does not come out of the blue. It comes from within the context of a long-running and deeply meaningful relationship. “We are Your people; You are our G‑d. We are Your flock; and Your are our Shepherd.” It is this relationship that justifies our request on this day and makes it not only appropriate to ask, but, more so, an expression of true intimacy.

Rabbi Shais Taub is a renowned speaker and noted scholar on Chassidic philosophy. He is the author of G-d of Our Understanding: Jewish Spirituality and Recovery from Addiction. He and his family make their home in Pittsburgh, PA.
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