In this week’s parshah, Ki Tisa, we read about the sin of the Golden Calf. Just months after G‑d freed us from the shackles of Egypt and days after He revealed His essence to us at Mount Sinai, we betrayed Him in the most hurtful way possible. We made and served a false god. And to throw salt on the wound, we gave it credit for redeeming us from Egypt.

As a nation, this has been our biggest regret to date. It weighs heavily on our national conscience, and we continually atone for this grave blunder. It has also been our greatest catalyst to change and get closer to G‑d.

Ultimately, it is this that gave us the most powerful tool for atonement, the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. It is what shaped us into the great, unwavering, G‑d-centered, dynamic, world-affecting people that we are.

All of us have regrets. All of us have done things that go against everything that we stand for at one time or another. It feels like a dark cloud following us around.

The question is: Do we let it bring us down into depression? Do we ignore it and become numb, cold and insensitive? Or do we allow it to affect us and become a cause for positive change?

Falling into depression is not the way. G‑d wants us to serve Him with joy. Becoming cold and insensitive is simply not Jewish. A Yid should be kind and caring.

Being cold or numb is miserable—and no way to live.

It’s time to take the bull by the horns. Examine the guilt. If the wrong can be righted, then by all means, do so. If you hurt someone, apologize. You will be surprised by how powerful an honest “I’m sorry” can be.

If it cannot be corrected, then allow the guilt to shape you into a better person. You will begin to see it as a positive rather than a negative.

Confined to a bed, I have a lot of time to think. How many experiences would I like to change? How many words would I like to take back? How many hurts would I like to soothe?

I know that your lives are busy, and it’s hard to find the time for this kind of introspection. However, this exercise will unburden you. It will allow you to rise above the hurt, the shame and the resentments. You will be happier, and those around you will be affected by the new and improved you.

If you can, please forgive me, please forgive yourselves, and most of all, forgive each other.