Our High Holy Day season offers us an opportunity for t’shuvah. T’shuvah is often interpreted as repentance, but literally translates as a “return.” This process of return does not follow a straight path; t’shuvah requires us to turn both backwards and forwards. Many different and sometimes seemingly conflicting moods and modes comprise our journey of t’shuvah. It requires atonement but also celebration, commemoration, reflection, and recommitment.
We would be hard pressed to make headway on this intense journey simply on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur and the days in between. Our tradition asks to begin the journey of t’shuvah an entire month before Rosh HaShanah at the start of the Hebrew month Elul (beginning sundown on Friday, August 10). While there are lots of ways that individuals begin their journey of t’shuvah during the month (some recite Psalm 27 and others sound the Shofar daily), I would like to offer you some questions to help you look backwards and forwards with the goal of returning to your most authentic self.
- During the past year, what has made you really happy?
- What do you really regret not doing last year? What opportunities did you miss?
- Whom do you wish you had not hurt? How might you make up for what you did?
- What was a Jewish highlight for you this past year?
- What was a Jewish low for you this past year?
- What new goals do you have for the coming year?
- How would you like to do things differently in the coming year?
- How would you like to enhance your Jewish life during the coming year?
Looking forward to taking this journey together.
Rabbi Rachel Kort