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Our sages teach us that by emulating God and His acts of kindness towards others, we arouse God’s kindness upon us.

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. It is the day when practically every person with any amount of Jewish blood running through his or her veins makes an appearance in a synagogue sometime during the 25 hours of Yom Kippur. It is the day when we say “sorry” and God says “I forgive you.”

Our sages teach us that by emulating God and His acts of kindness towards others, we arouse God’s kindness upon us. It follows, therefore, that if we want God to forgive our transgressions against Him, we must forgive others for their transgressions against us.

But what does it really mean to truly forgive someone? The story of Bob Hoover might be the best way to illustrate it.

Bob Hoover, a famous test pilot and air show acrobat, was once returning to his home in Los Angeles from an air show he performed in San Diego. As described in the magazine “Flight Operations,” during the airshow, both engines suddenly stopped working. With wondrous, skillful, and ostensibly miraculous maneuvering, he managed to land the plane. It landed with a bit too much of a ‘boom’ and was badly damaged, but nobody was hurt, not even Bob himself.

The first thing Bob did after his crash landing was to inspect the plane’s fuel. And, just as he suspected, the World War II propeller plane he was flying in the airshow had been filled with jet fuel rather than gasoline.

When he got back to the airport, he asked to see the mechanic who had serviced his airplane. He was taken to meet a young man who was sick with the pain of his mistake. He was crying and trembling as Bob came over to him. He was devastated that he had just caused the loss of a very expensive plane and could have caused the loss of many lives as well. Onlookers were ready for the tongue lashing, if not worse, that Bob would likely unleash on the mechanic for his negligence.

But Bob didn’t yell at the mechanic. In fact, he didn’t even criticize him. Instead, he put his big arm around the young man’s shoulder and said, “To show you I’m sure that you’ll never do this again, I want you to service my F-51 tomorrow.”

May God forgive us this Yom Kippur just like Bob Hoover forgives others.