Teshuva and Oneness

“One thing I ask of you, I earnestly pray for: that I may dwell in your house all the days of my life; behold the beauty of God and be in that holy place.” From Psalm 27

Teshuvah, meaning “return” in Hebrew, in its theological meaning suggests “return to God” and this is the major theme of the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah (this year on Sept 24-26) and Yom Kippur (this year on Oct 3-4). It’s an easy concept to understand, that as humans, we have wandered off of the mark of our personal best probably in many ways, a very human thing to do. However, to return is not so easy. Our sages give us the task of examining 4 areas of our existence where we may have defaulted on promises or behaved poorly, even sinned: our relationships between other people, between ourselves and God, between ourselves and ourselves and between ourselves and the physical world. Oh my gosh! This is very overwhelming to figure out where to start, what to do. One of our local rabbis (Joshua Boettiger) suggested for the month of Elul which proceeds Rosh Hashanah that we take on a commitment to one thing in our life that needs work. What a splendid Idea, I thought…I can do this. And you can do it, too! So I suggest creating a spiritual practice from now through Yom Kippur containing any or all of the following: 1) blow the shofar- as a call to God to hear us and forgive us, reminding us that the time is now to do teshuvah; 2) recite Psalm 27 (traditional for Elul); 3) work on the one thing we have committed to change or repair in our life; 4) pray from our prayer book or meditate or do our own spiritual practice.

In closing I want to share some of the moving words of a song by the Orthodox Jewish rapper, Matisyahu, appropriately entitled, “One Day”:

“One Day”

Sometimes I lay
Under the moon
And thank God I’m breathing
Then I pray
Don’t take me soon
‘Cause I am here for a reason

Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it’ll all turn around because…

All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
There will be no more wars
And our children will play; One day [x6]

One day this all will change
Treat people the same
Stop with the violence
Down with the hate

One day we’ll all be free
And proud to be
Under the same sun
Singing songs of freedom like
One day [x2]

L’shana Tova! Have a very good year!! Rabbi Jackie