What is Teshuva

The cry of “Elul” used to send shivers down the spines of the pious. Not any more! That cry seems no longer relevant. The world that has lost its reverence for authority, has rejected the community in favor of the individual and has elevated the ego to being an ideal through the notion of self actualization and personal transformation. If we do relate to Elul, we look upon it as a training program that will help us up our game so we score big time on Rosh Hashana. What a distorted (perverted?) view of this powerful period of the year.

No, Elul is not a warm up for the Yamim Noraim marathon! Elul is a time to let go of our fragile selves, not to cling onto to them, under the guise of self improvement. The subtle goal is to dance upon the tightrope of accepting responsibility for all that I have done and relinquishing control over my life. Every bad decision that I made I accept culpability yet every situation that I found myself was perfectly orchestrated by Hashem.

In Elul we become aware of how we are essentially powerless. In doing so we discover the only real power we have, to let Hashem into our lives.  What does it all mean? Well, it works like this; I am lazy, angry and selfish and as hard as I try, I remain lazy, angry and selfish. And those traits drive me to all kinds of dodgy stuff, far from what Hashem wants from me. So what do I do? I admit that I can’t do it by myself, I admit that the problem is all mine, I am the only one responsible, and still, I admit can’t do it by myself. Then I feel compelled to cry out for help. And that sincere cry is the catalyst to letting go and yet owning the responsibility I have to live a life of greatness.

Let go, hang on and welcome Hashem into your world.





Tumbling out of bed he finds his balance by steadying himself on a chair.  It’s Tuesday right? Yes, or at least I think so…  In a semi – conscious state he gets dressed simultaneously checking messages on his phone. While he buttons his shirt he replies to an email, sees who the missed calls were from and sets an alarm to remind himself to eat, or was it to breathe? Or was it to live?

Today more than ever, without a focus on mission, the acts of life threaten to drown us in the tide of technology.  We will be spat up on the shore of living, rarely having being a witness to that which lies beneath the surface of the mundane.

Stop for a moment, listen to the silence and ask the most penetrating of questions, why? Why this body?  This land?  These friends?  These talents?  This job? And ultimately all those “whys” will end up in a search for the purpose of life itself.

For a Jew, this is called preparing for Shavuos.  Shavuos is the day that we become charged with a mission – national and individual. National, to reveal the way of Hashem to the world; and individual, to reflect that light through the prism of our beings.  The build up to that day requires us to hold up our lives to the light of the Torah and see if we are reflecting it; or are we caught up in the net of living never giving the “why” a thought.