During the High Holiday season we think about teshuva (repentance). Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald, Director of NJOP, explains that according to tradition, the King is out in the fields, he's left the palace in order to greet the people who have come to see him. That's what the 10 Days of Penitence are all about. God is out there with us waiting for us to come and express our regret.
What exactly is teshuva? The first step of repentance is to recognize that we've done something wrong. Today we explain away all of our wrong actions. We say big deal. Or, how can it be bad if it feels so good? There is an idea of healthy guilt in Judaism. Recognizing that we could be better. That is what the first step of teshuva is about. Recognizing when we have done something wrong, and changing ourselves.
The next step is to articulate what we have done wrong. To hear ourselves admitting it. Jews don't get to confess to a priest, or a rabbi. We need to confess to ourselves.
Finally, we must resolve not to do it again. If you are confronted with that same mistake you will act differently. If confronted with that same threat, instead of succumbing, we overcome it.
Rabbi Buchwald prays that God will accept all of our prayers, that we will all repent fully and we will be inscribed in for a year of health, happiness and peace. Shana Tova, Happy New Year!