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Bury the hatchet, but keep the map



“I bury hatchets but keep maps of where I put them.” These words were sung by Taylor Swift in her album Reputation, and summarise my outlook on forgiveness.

As we draw close to Rosh Hashanah, I cannot help but fixate on my past misdeeds and perceived flaws that I have unearthed like some demented brain-archaeologist. I find myself wondering if G-d, too, has taken up cartography.

In life, we’re often told to forgive and forget, to brush ourselves off and continue. I’ve never been particularly fond of this advice.

I believe no-one ever never forgets. Forgive if you must, but keep your maps. This thought path leads to an obsessive loop in my mind: “There’s something wrong with me, and G-d will never forget that.”

To illustrate my point, I mention my sisters. In my house, we have the tradition of assigning sentimental value to the order of lighting and placement of our Shabbos candles. Recently, my elder sister, unprovoked, moved her candle to the middle – the most desirable spot. This bothered my younger sister, and sparked a weeks’-long feud. The curious thing about this dispute is that it went unmentioned for the duration of the week and only flared up at candle-lighting. It was forgiven, yes, but never fully forgotten, and only further proves my argument.

It may be that nothing we do is forgotten, but is that really a bad thing? People are multifaceted. We’re more than just our good or bad sides, and should remember rather than hide and condemn the less perfect aspects of who we are. There’s space for all of it. The bad doesn’t define us, but isn’t irrelevant either.

From the above, I have proven that nobody ever fully forgets the mistakes you make, but this isn’t a crisis. There’s a certain comfort in knowing that G-d remembers all the times I have messed up and keeps me alive anyway. There may, indeed, be something amiss with me, and although it’s part of who I am, it’s by no means the only part of me that matters or what will bind me to a dark and terrible new year.

Miri Harris, Grade 10, Torah Academy

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