Getting Ready…

by Arliene Botnick, August 22, 2018

We will have 40 days to prepare – Are we ready?

From the beginning of the 30-day month of Elul, till the 10th day of Tishrei (Yom Kippur) we are trying to prepare for Teshuvah (Repentance). We are preparing to make our annual attempt at turning our lives back on course, an attempt to look at our misdeeds (chet – which means sin or perhaps more accurately, missing the mark) and this time achieve the mark. It isn’t easy.

Just as Moses spent 40 days fasting on Mt. Sinai after shattering the 1st set of tablets, we will spend a mere 24 hours fasting in our effort to come to terms with our wrongdoings and those of our community, our family, our country. Moses wanted, sought out God’s forgiveness on behalf of the Israelites, for the building of the Golden Calf. What exactly do we seek forgiveness for? Well, we have 40 days to prepare, to do a self-assessment, a search into our souls (Chesbon Ha Nefesh).

But since Elul and Yom Kippur are annual calendar events, as humans, all we can do is keep trying and what doesn’t work this year, we have another chance next year.

So how do we begin getting ready to seek atonement, right the wrongs done, be the best we can be. I think one has to begin by truly knowing who each of us is, what we are capable of doing, what we should be doing and what is just not acceptable. We have to be honest and true to ourselves, as Shakespeare says in Hamlet “we then cannot be false to any other human”.

This past week at Camp George, I worked with 8 – 10 year olds on the concept of Teshuvah. We began recognizing who each of us is – our names, our place in our family, school, camp, what our relationships with our siblings is – good, bad, fun, envious. These campers really thought about this (as deeply as little ones can think). They began to see what was good in their lives, what was a problem, what made them happy, what made them proud, what got them into trouble. With these little ones, self-assessment was relatively easy.

Not so easy for us! So, over the next 40 days, let’s discover who each of us is, and what each of us has the potential to be. Let’s assess where we have “messed up”, to whom we owe apologies, and what we have learned from our mistakes. Let’s mourn our losses (and there have been some significant and painful losses in our Solel family over this past year) and yes, we must learn how to live with our pain and remember always those we have lost. Let’s enjoy, as much as possible and live and work together to bring about Tikkun Olam (The Mending of the World). Each day, each week, each month, each year – a new beginning.

L’Shanah Tova

Filed under: Educator's Message

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