The concept of Teshuvah, repentance, in the month of Elul has many aspects. Forgiveness, returning to our essence, celebrating the positive, as well as making amends for the negative, are all part of this process. During lockdown, many of us are struggling and it’s important to remember the positive side to this month – the exploration of what has worked well over the past year.
Reflecting over the year gone by, we consider the kindness of others and whether we have expressed our gratitude in an appropriate way. Lockdown can be a good time to journal and list some of the people we want to thank and contact.
A pat on the back
Consider the things that you have done over the past year that have had a positive impact on yourself and others. What have you done well? What have you accomplished? How can you continue to do well in the year to come? This can be related to any aspect of your life and can be something major or minor – it all adds up. Think about what have you done that you are proud of?
Elul is a time to let go of grudges, even with yourself. Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi said: “One of the greatest transgressions is to feel you can’t make amends for something you have done.” Learning from the past is important during this period. So rather than give yourself a hard time, consider mistakes made, how and why they happened, how you can ask for forgiveness and how you can move forward and learn from the past. Be open to the possibility of forgiving others and forgiving yourself.
Hopes for the year to come
A new year is approaching and that means a chance to restart and reboot. The word “shana” means “year” and also means “change”. What changes are you hoping for in the year ahead? What active steps can you take to make these changes happen? Make a plan with small steps that are achievable and practical. In the words of Zig Ziglar: “A great attitude becomes a great mood, which becomes a great day, which becomes a great year.”
Connect with your essence
Find some ways to connect with that inner voice of stillness and wisdom. Each person has their own way of doing this, so find what works for you, whether it be meditation, connection on a spiritual level with others, prayer, walking in nature, gentle stretches or reading inspirational books. The word teshuvha comes from the same root as “return”. This is a time to return to your essential goodness.
Rabbi Dr Orna Triguboff has a PhD from the University of Sydney in Jewish studies, specialising in Kabbalah. She was ordained in 2010 with the Jewish renewal movement and is now a rabbi at Emanuel Synagogue.