Returning is about asking hard questions. Many of these questions have never been asked until now, perhaps, because we’ve been too frightened of learning the answers. But the time has come to ask those questions.
The call to Teshuvah is the voice of our age. It has called our deepest longings into actuality. We were like dreamers, and though we plowed in sorrow and seeded bitter thorns, we are now gathering in a harvest beyond our wildest dreams.
In Teshuvah, we go through some of the same stages as in mourning. We acknowledge the mistake—it was the wrong thing to do. We experience regret, understanding the full import of our wrongs. We reach a point where all of the regret, despair, grief, and longing to make right can find expression. We become someone else, someone who even if brought to exactly the same circumstances, would not make the same mistake again.
What does Teshuvah have to do with healing from trauma. Not much at first glance. But as a trauma survivor, I’ve come to see that there are, in fact, some intriguing connections. In fact, these connections take us straight through the lessons of Elul, from Parashat Ki Tavo and into Parashat Nitzavim.
The deception of his brother and his father must have weighed heavily on him. For nearly two decades he has lived away from home; ample time for the event to magnify itself in his mind and become a fixation. What else could I have done? He knows that he did wrong. He also knows that it was necessitated by the situation.
As we approach the month of Elul – the time set for introspection and repentance – we often look towards Sifrei Mussar or other Jewish works to give us direction, insight and strength to confront one of the biggest challenges one can face: ourselves.
A subconscious thought becomes explicit when it is articulated in speech. Things unspoken—and unspeakable—may have tremendous influence on one’s outward thoughts and feelings far beyond what we can ever be aware of. Until we can articulate the thought, and bring it into conscious awareness, we have no control over it. So it is with Teshuvah, and so it is with the Geulah.
This essay about Rosh HaShanah explores the concepts of din and rachmim, and the interplay between the two. It will also give the reader a new meaning to the word “honeymoon”. Rosh HaShanah (literally, “the Head of the Year”) marks the beginning of the New Year, but also has has another role as the beginning Read more