As we come ever closer to Rosh HaShanah, the head/beginning of our New Year, a time ripe with hope, expectation, and connection, we are all called to reflect on hurts we have caused, small and large, take responsibility for them to the extent we are able, apologize, and begin to take steps to heal the places where there has previously been a wound.
The initiative for repair may begin in our own awareness, or it may come in response to a criticism or request for correction from a friend, community member, a loved one, or even a stranger. This is work that is never easy, it is always personal, intimate, vulnerable, and rife with the possibility of more misunderstanding. In Judaism we call this sacred work T'shuvah (or Teshuvah, depending on how you transliterate). This is the attempt to turn ourselves around, to start anew in a different direction, or maybe re-turn to a relationship or a way of being that is more true to how we want to live. It is not easy work, but it is holy work. The possibility for T'shuvah, is at the very center of a good life.
As the Holy Day liturgy will remind us over and over again, we human beings are fallible creatures. However, hidden within that fallibility are deep treasures. One of them is the knowledge that since perfection is not within our reach, we do not need to judge our selves or others as bad or irrevocably sinful somehow, for simply being fallible, i.e. human. This fallibility is one of the keys to empathy, an appreciation that the wrongdoing of others is not necessarily ill intended, but may simply be their imperfection, just like our own. The other gift is T'shuvah, the potential for growth, for re-connection, for re-pair, for love and appreciation even amidst the hurt.
This week's Challenge: As we enter Rosh HaShanah, the Days of Awe, Yom Kippur, and the year that follows, I hope that we all find ways to share where and when we've been hurt and to do T'shuvah with compassion, empathy, and courage.