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Rabbi Zev Sonnenstein Reflects

Teshuvah...turning... reviewing...reconsidering...

At the heart of our preparations for the Days of Awe is the concept of change and transformation and review. Jewish tradition understands that we human beings are not perfect. We make mistakes that affect others as well as ourselves, but these errors of judgment, omission and commission need not remain with us forever.

On Rosh Hashanah, we celebrate life and the possibility of new beginnings. We affirm the freedom and responsibility we have, to conduct our lives with decency and morality. On Yom Kippur, we focus on the mistakes we make when we fail to exercise our freedom with responsibility. We seek atonement and forgiveness for our mistakes, and we experience the fragility of life. We realize that we want to make a meaningful difference by the way we live our lives while we still can and do teshuvah.

According to Rabbi Eliezar, teshuvah was created even before God began to create the world. Our existence depends so much upon our ability to reflect, reconsider, and return to our best selves that it was a necessary building block of creation.

This is the time of year of turning: turning to reflect upon our past and then turning to embrace our future. This concept is embodied in teshuvah, our process of repentance throughout our High Holy Days. Contained within the word teshuvah is the root shuv (shin, vav, vet), meaning to turn. Teshuvah often compels us to reorient ourselves on our journeys in order not to make the same mistakes twice. Or for the third or fourth or fifth time as it often seems.

May this High Holy Days be one of teshuvah – turning, returning, reflecting and learning how we can be our best selves and our best as a community.

From my family to yours, we wish for you that this New Year 5784, be a healthy, happy, and sweet new year and may you be inscribed in the Book of Life and Blessing...

Shanah tova u’metukah, u’gamar chatima tova

Rabbi Zev Sonnenstein, Biography 

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