As the High Holiday season approaches Jews traditionally begin to review the past year including what are we proud of, the mistakes we have made and our regrets. During High Holy Day services we even formally look at our wrongdoings which we may term as "sins."
Judaism has a unique perspective regarding "sins." It recognizes that we humans are prone to wrongdoing, mostly unintentionally, and sometimes with our full awareness.
But even when "evil people" commit "evil deeds" with full intent and awareness, their deliberate intent itself is seen as an unconscious deviation from their own deep inner decency and goodness.
Therefore the most evil person does not really sin. In fact in Hebrew we don't even have a word for "sin!" The closest word is "Chet" which means missing the mark or target.
These inner targets of goodness and righteousness are the fabric, the building blocks used by G-D to create our world.
When a person though his actions misses his inner target, a destructive energy is added to our world which affects all of us. It takes away from the beauty of our world.
Good deeds and righteous acts do the opposite. They cleanse the world from the polluted energy of evil. This "Cleansing" is the Jewish concept of "Tikun Olam" , repairing the word. Righteousness and good deeds are wonderful cleansers to a world full of "wrong doing."
When too much evil energy exists, Gaia, Mother Earth, will even take the necessary steps to get rid of this energy.
The Torah documents several such cases: The story of the flood, when one righteous person, Noah, was not enough to cleanse the negative energy that engulfed the earth. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah, when one good person Lot, was not enough to cleanse those cities. The story of Korach who rebelled against Moses. Korach's energy was so caustic that it caused the earth to swallow him.
When we come together as a congregation during the High Holy Days, we have the power together to cleanse ourselves and our world.
May it be so in this New Year of 5777!