By: Brenda Shoshanna
Most of us spend our lives seeking and struggling to find that which will bring meaning and wholeness to our lives. Searching on the highways and byways, most of that which we find, soon loses value. Perhaps it is because we search in the wrong way and for the wrong reason.
Then the time comes to Turn Around, take a new look, return to that which will never fail to provide joy, understanding and fulfillment. But, before we can return, we must know where it is we are returning to, and where we are right now. In Judaism , the Jewish New Year, and particularly the month of Elul, the month leading up to the New Year, is the time for turning around. The process is called Teschuvah. Wherever we are in our lives, we must stop our usual behavior, take stock, reconsider. We must turn to that which is greater and wiser. It is our job to find it.
The place to return to is called HaMakom, another name for Gd. It is the place in which we can rest, be renewed, find our deepest Center and become whole. This is a very crucial time. During this month, it is said that God and true wisdom are closer to us than usual, more energy is available to make changes, each deed of worth we do has extra power to affect lasting changes. This time of return is also a time of testing. We are shown ourselves more clearly, must face the truth, so we know what it is that must be transformed during this precious time. Teschuvah also means repentance, purifying ourselves. The process of repentance is a Jewish koan, a question we struggle with that does not have a set answer, but that we must face on our own. How do we make repentance real in our lives? It’s one thing to beat our chest and beg for forgiveness, it’s another to truly wash our hearts and minds and come to life with clean hands.
To begin to explore the true nature of repentance it is useful to see that the word for “sin” in Judaism means error, or to miss the mark. Whatever errors we have made can be corrected. In fact, they are natural, inevitable in human life. When we turn around, look at ourselves simply, in quietness, , we stop grabbing at the outside world and blaming others for our pain. Instead we see what it is within that needs correction and instruction.
One of the best ways to heal errors is to ask for forgiveness. All during the month of Elul an important instruction is to call anyone we know who we might have offended in the past year and ask to be forgiven. Many do not know what exactly they must be forgiven for or how their behavior has affected another. It is necessary to look and see. It is a great gift to give to another to ask for forgiveness, and of course, a great gift to yourself.
A great aid is to sit simply, quietly with oneself, turn the attention and focus around and instead of asking for something for ourselves, look and see what we have truly given to others, how have we used our lives to uplift and enhance all that we meet. Only then are we able to recognize the pain our actions, or lack of actions, may have caused – and how this pain can be healed.
It has been said that all loneliness and sorrow ultimately come from separation from God, each other and ourselves. The process of teschuvah, repentance and return is a process of letting go of separation of finding our wholeness and unity once again. As we do this, we discover our oneness has never been lost, only covered over with misunderstanding and confusion, covered by the walls we have created and that we can now take down.
The Torah asks, where is God? The answer comes; God is wherever you let him or her in. As we turn around, we find ways to let God and one another in, in a brand new way.
About The Author
Learn new ways of making peace in award winning book, Jewish Dharma (A Guide to the Practice of Judaism and Zen), http://www.jewishdharma.com. Written by Dr Shoshanna, top psychologist, workshop leader who is dedicated to life transformation and creating authentic peace of mind. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org, (212) 288-0028.
The author invites you to visit: http://www.brendashoshanna.com
- High Holy Day Cycle (exploringjudaism.wordpress.com)
- What do we do with this term “Forgiveness”? (beingacatalyst.wordpress.com)
- ISRAEL: Sorry Means Nothing (worldmomsblog.com)
- Am I the only one who has trouble repenting? (midlifebatmitzvah.wordpress.com)
- Forgiveness in Marriage (Part 1) (marriageisgood.wordpress.com)