Righteous Sin, or the Tale of the Cricket
Jews are currently in a ten-day period known as the “days of awe,” which are the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. In this time, we are supposed to repent for our sins, ask for forgiveness and cleanse ourselves as the new year begins. I’m used to this.
However, sometimes I wonder about the decisions I made and the sins that I had committed. I typically look back and think, “Well, I didn’t do anything THAT bad.” But then came the cricket in my room. And even the smallest of creatures on this planet are yearning to communicate with us a message. Or in my case, chirp it.
My apartment complex has crickets in spades. They’re in the planters downstairs and haunting the garage. Most of the time, it’s not a problem, and I continue on. That is, until two weeks ago a cricket found its way into my closet, chirping and singing its song every night to its heart’s content, meanwhile keeping me awake for all hours. I went digging for it through the clothes and storage, but still no sign.
In fury, I would rattle where I thought it was so it would be quiet so I could get some sleep. I’m not fast enough to catch it, so I attempted alternative methods. I tried capturing it by covering it with a coffee mug, but instead ended up throwing the mug, causing it to break in two. I would post regularly about it on Facebook, telling sinful jokes and mimicking Liam Neeson in the movie Taken (“I don’t know where you are, but I will find you. And I will kill you.”) And whenever a person would chirp at me, “But crickets are good luck!” I would think to myself, Don’t test me, or you’re next.
I tried to pretend it wasn’t there. Earplugs, pillows and blankets were stacked over my head to block the noise. If I knew it was in a specific closet, I would shut the door. But in the meantime, every squeak made me look around for the cricket, and I began to plan for its demise. I bought roach motels and made traps based off of internet models. Nothing was working, and the cricket seemed to be positioning itself in the places where it would make the most noise: On top of my hamper, behind the metal grating on my desk, and in the bathroom. Boy, did it love the bathroom.
Eventually, I bought a glue trap that you typically use on mice and spread sugar on top. When the cricket began chirping in the bathroom, I placed the glue trap, shut the door, blocked the gap between the door and the floor so it couldn’t crawl out and went to sleep. And sure enough, the next morning, the cricket was dead in the trap.
At first I was victorious. After two weeks of restless sleep and misery, I finally succeeded in catching it. Then I looked at it in the glue trap down on my bathroom floor, and I felt something I didn’t think I would feel: sadness. In seeking peace, I killed a living thing. I committed a sin.
After I showered that morning, I sat in wonder. Yes, anyone who had seen me or talked to me over the past two weeks knew the cricket was driving me insane. I wasn’t sleeping and was buying trap after trap in trying to catch it. Now that it was dead, I should have found relief. I did, but had to sacrifice a life to get it. And I realized this is not the first time, nor would it be the last, where I did something to take care of myself and then, in turn, had hurt someone or something else.
It’s a part of humanity that I wish wasn’t. But people do get hurt and feel pain as a result of our respective self-preservations, yet no one can be selfless 100 percent of the time. We don’t mean these things to happen; we get carried away in pursuit of something there are those who will suffer. And still we forget in our respective madnesses that lurk in the corners of our minds that there are others who will have the pay the price for them. And sometimes the price is so steep you pray to the almighty for any way to repair them, even though it is impossible.
And as I sit at a table at my favorite shop across a table, thinking of the cricket trap on my bathroom floor and trying to picture the outline of a boy who I wronged so deeply I will never forgive myself, I realize the truth about these days of awe and the nature of sin: They were meant for people like me.
We are not bad people in general, and although I do have my faults, I’m not that terrible. Those that are do not truly recognize the nature of their sins, and will continue on their way in this life ignorant of those they have wronged. But those of us who understand the nature of it realize that yes, even the best among us sin. We have sinned even by our inaction. We have sinned by committing even the smallest treason in the heart of someone who loves us.
We need to be able to find comfort and forgiveness from the horrors our pasts; perhaps that’s why the forgiveness of our wrongs has such a huge place in many faiths. Sometimes we are able to find them in the people who we have wronged, and sometimes that’s not possible given the circumstances. We can’t go back and change the nature of it. What we can change, however, is how we deal with who we have sinned against and how we give comfort to our respective consciousnesses.
So for those who read this, may you find those who you want to send your forgiveness to and repair the wounds you have caused. For those I have wronged, please find it in your hearts to forgive me this year. And “g’mar chatima tova” — may we all be inscribed into the book of good life together.