I’ve had a hard spot in my heart for Jimmy Carter since 1988, when he tried to get me fired for writing an exposé of the Carter Center. (Happily, he didn’t succeed.) So what to make of his Chanukah greeting to the Jewish community offering “an Al Het for any words or deeds of mine” that might have “permit[ted] criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel”?
“Wow,” said my wife, bless her heart. “Is he about to die or something?”
“Al Het” (“For the Sin”) is the name of the lengthy prayer Jews say numerous times on Yom Kippur to ask God to forgive them their trespasses. It list the sins alphabetically, comprehending wrongdoing from A to Z–the alpha and the omega of misbehavior. One of my favorites is the “glance of an eye”–often translated as “wanton looks.” Carter famously offered up an Al Het of that sort in 1976, when he confessed to Playboy that he had “sinned in his heart.”
Anyway, inspired by the former president, it seems a good time, after 25 months of blogging in this space, to offer up some Al Hets of my own: for scoffing, evil talk, haughty demeanor, passing judgment, frivolity, tale-bearing, hard-heartedness, and (last but not least) confusion of mind.
And Happy Holidays to you all.