To me, all sins come down to sins against God. If you believe a spark of Divinity exists in all things, then any sin you commit against something or someone constitutes a sin against God.
Additionally, other actions are sins against our Creator as well. What might these be? They could be different for different people (and I’m not calling on rabbinic texts or sacred sources here). For me, personally, actions that constitute sins against God include not making it a priority to spend time with God – meditating, praying, listening, talking, chanting, offering gratitude and appreciation for all that I am, have and receive. If I’m not making the effort to have a relationship with God, to have God in my life on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis, that’s a sin. And if I lose faith in God, that’s a sin as well.
I want to remember “to place God before me always” – Shiviti Adonai l’negde tamid – and to know that God’s hand is in my life guiding and directing me even when it doesn’t appear to be so. Placing God before me always provides me with a devotional target for living life in a spiritual manner, and if I forget to aim at that target, or if I don’t take aim, I definitely miss my mark. That’s a sin.
If I don’t observe the Sabbath in some way shape of form, that’s a sin. I admit, I don’t always observe it, but I do remember it. I try to at least have a Shabbas mindset if I can’t actually rest and go to services on that day.
Of course, there are so many commandments, and I know I don’t have the ability to observe them all. I can, however, perform mitzvot, the Hebrew word for commandments that often is translated as “good deeds,” as often as possible. This can be my target…to perform as many mitzvot – commandments and good deeds as possible. If I don’t do at least that, I have again, missed my target.
So much of this comes down to spiritual practice, spending time every day connecting with God in some way. And there are so many ways in which to do so, especially through Judaism with it’s 100 blessings a day and 613 commandments. Take your pick! And many of these spiritual practices can be made very, very practical. In fact, they are meant to fit into your life…to become part of your life, so every moment becomes an opportunity for spiritual practice and connection with the Divine.
On this third Day of Awe, we – I – turn inward and consider how I have sinned against God. (Oh, in so many ways…) I ask for forgiveness for the deep recesses of my heart and my soul. I remember that, despite my actions (in inactions), my soul is pure. Elohai neshama sh’natata bi tehora hi (Oh God, the soul you have given me is pure). I pray that God remembers/see that; I trust that God knows that and forgives me my transgressions.
For this relationship above all others is the one that I value most. This is the one that never forsakes me…even when I forsake it. Thus, I turn inward; I evaluate my actions; I ask for forgiveness for my sins; I look for ways to rectify my wrongs; I create new targets (spiritual practices) for the New Year, and I forgive myself my past transgressions. And then I turn to God.