- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On September 22, 2017
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we prepare for Shabbat.
We are launched into these Days of Awe from Rosh Hashanah beginning Wednesday eve to Yom Kippur next week. T’shuvah and what it brings surrounds us as an offering we take upon ourselves. Jewish tradition demands from us in our turning, twisting, and pivoting a hyper awareness of all of our senses and our attention. These days in between are a call to action toward the hard work of our souls.
It is a time when we strive to experience more clearly ourselves in relationship to others. It is as if these holidays place a headlamp on our foreheads to illumine a path before us. As anyone knows who has tried to move about in the dark with one of these lights attached, we can only see what is ahead if we actually take a step forward. Otherwise, the distance remains dark.
T’shuvah is like this as well. The Hasidic teacher, Rabbi Shelomo of Radomsk wrote [i]that before a person makes T’shuvah, that person doesn’t even comprehend what his or her transgression might be. We don’t know what we don’t know. Only after the first steps of T’shuvah do we begin to fathom the enormity of the damage caused by what we may have done or said or whom we may have hurt. As we take those steps forward, engaging in T’shuvah, we begin to understand more and experience more clearly the impact of our actions. In doing so, we ascend level by level, increasing and strengthening T’shuvah toward a place of holiness.
How do we begin? How do we take that step? Through reflection, consideration, and review, these are the days we make those calls, send those emails, walk into someone’s office and find a path to elevate others and ourselves toward forgiveness, either to ask or to receive it. We don’t know what we don’t know until the light of awareness shines into the darkness.
Shabbat Shalom and may the new year bring you and your family many blessings.
In addition, I commend this important work to you:
The Racial Justice Initiative at TI has compiled a series of readings, podcasts, art, cartoons, music, and suggestions for experiences and actions designed to frame individual and communal reflection on issues of racial inequality, privilege, discrimination, and injustice during these Ten Day in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We invite you to add these concerns to the others through which you are looking back over the past year and forward to the year ahead. To participate in this reflective process, please fill out this form. There are processes available for adults and older teenagers, as well as younger teenagers and children.
[i] Itturei Torah Vol. VI, pg. 186. This particular comment was translated by Rabbi Lawrence Kushner