December 1, 2007 | Issue 28

E-Mechila: You'll be Virtually Forgiven

YEHUPITSVILLE, NEW JERSEY (A suburb of Teaneck) — [] This past High Holiday season, Rabbi Zundel Shickdrek did the same thing as many other Jews - he spent the holidays looking at himself and trying to improve his interpersonal skills and mend his relationships with other people. He realized that while he went around asking for mechila (forgiveness) from the people in his life, there was one group of people that he had left out - the people on his e-mail forwards list.

"Gevalt!, I thought to myself," recalls Rabbi Shickdrek. "There were so many people to ask for mechila, I didn't know where to start!" So Rabbi Shickdrek got together with his friend, Rabbi Dov Bohner, and wrote a special Mechila for sending forwards. "We all do Tefilat Zakah and Hatarat Nedarim every year, why not Mechilat e-Doar?" said Rabbi Bohner. The prayer, which should be sent - of course - via e-mail, was a hit. As Rabbi Bohner recalls, "Within five minutes of sending it, it was re-forwarded to me by ten other people, three of whom I didn't really know!" It was so successful that they were receiving e-mails to write similar missives and prayers for people who are in desperate need of special supplements or enhancements, as well as for tefilot for parnasah for people as far away as Nigeria (they have a small, but wealthy Jewish community which unfortunately needs some money to get the banks to open up their accounts).

Seeing the success of their campaign, Rabbis Bohner and Shickdrek, decided to spread the word by asking to publish their mechila for them. We're hard up for articles, so the entire text of the mechila appears below. Please do your best to forward this around to your friends.

Introduction by the authors:

During this High Holiday season, many Jews of all backgrounds around the world take the time to reflect on the previous year and seek to improve themselves. Amongst the pious it is customary to ask your loved ones for mechila (forgiveness) for anything you might have done to wrong them, and as an opportunity to make amends. We call our brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, neighbors, ex-boy/girlfriends, that 5th grade teacher, and the skinny geeks and fat kids from high school that we used to abuse. But one such constituent group is being neglected - the random people on our e-mail forwards list. Each one of us is a spammer (C"V) to some degree, but very few of us are asking for mechila from those people on our list. Even worse, we send out meaningless spam e-mails to those people right before Rosh Hashana with Flash videos of dogs blowing the Shofar and kitschy subject lines like Sho-Far Sho-Good, and curt instant messages like -ru mochel? plz b my bff again? l8rz! - lacking even the slightest bit of sincerity.

Since we are just as bad as the rest of you, we decided to prepare the following sincere apology letter, and share it with you, so that you can forward this to your lists and likewise be forgiven. This will definitely work, since we know that many of you will forward it without reading it, and even then you will appear to be sincere. As an added bonus, the more people you forward this to, Bill Gates will donate $0.01 for each to allow us to create public-funded Yeshivot!

In any case, please forward this to everyone on your list, and don't worry if you send it back to us multiple times, because we're already sending your e-mail to the spam filter!

Rabbi Zundel Shickdrek and Rabbi Dov Bohner - the National Committee for E-mail Forwarding Mechila

Body of the tefilah:

Tefilat E-Doar - A mechila prayer for E-mail Forwarders:

Dear (circle one:) Friend/Relative/Colleague at work/Shul list recipient/Some random person who doesn't really know me, but who's e-mail address I've poached off of someone else's forwards,

The High Holidays are upon us, and in the spirit of the season I want to ask for your forgiveness for all of those times I filled your inbox with jokes, hoaxes, funny pictures, chain letters, divrei Torah from dubious sources and other useless spam. Whether it was something I read and enjoyed, or something that I didn't bother to read through, but thought to send it anyway. Whether it was something that I simply forwarded for the sake of passing it on, or because it was a hoax about a computer virus and I wanted to protect you, or whether it was about a public opinion poll about Israel on (CNN/FOXnews/MSNBC/NYTimes) that we desparately needed to win.

Whether I forwarded it specifically to you, or whether I forwarded it to my entire list. Whether you received it only from me, or whether you and I got it from the first person and then I forwarded it to you again because I was too lazy to compare the two lists.

Please forgive me for all of these time- and disk space-wasting bytes, these diversions from real work,(especially those that required you to do research to prove to me and everyone else on my list that they were, in fact, a hoax, so that they don't avoid shopping malls on Halloween, or send that guy from Nigeria $10K), and all that time you took to reply - a reply which probably either got completely ignored or caught in my junk mail folder.

Please forgive me for all of these, my Dear Friend/Relative/Colleague at work/Shul list recipient/Some random person who doesn't really know me, but who's e-mail address I've poached off of someone else's forwards, for my intention was not to offend you/get you in trouble with the boss/spread that virus, but to inform and entertain you between serious e-mails you get from your spouse, family, boss and's select list of vendors.

If it is truly in your heart to forgive me, please tell your anti-spam program to stop banning my e-mail address and stop blocking me on IM (and answer my Linked-In, Facebook, and MySpace friend requests, and download Plaxo too while you are at it).

And if by some odd chance that this gets caught in your inbox for one entire year, and you don't find it until next Rosh Hashanah, just keep it, read it again and forward it to five more friends.


Pencil Yonah Wolf helped Rabbi's Shickdrek and Bohner write the mechila above and tested against his own list of friends. He is the proud papa of three little Jewish boys, and blogs about them at


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