Elul Reflection: 5 Elul 5779

Repentance begins in Gratitude!

I once heard Rabbi David Wolpe ask: “Why does Rosh Hashanah come before Yom Kippur?” Surely he taught, it should be the other way around! “First we should cleanse ourselves, purge our sins, and then celebrate the New Year. The emotional logic seems compelling — repentance is what enables us to begin anew.”

In responding to his own questions he accepted that the emotional logic is compelling, but explained spiritual intent that underpins the Yamim Noraim - the Days of Awe.

For us, as Jews, he taught: repentance begins in gratitude!

First we must value what is, and estimate the true worth of the gifts we have been given. Rosh Hashanah comes to encourage us to appreciate the world — hayom harat olam — on this day all of creation was called into being. Once we are grateful for what is, we can honestly evaluate whether we have helped creation attain perfection, or hindered it through our misdeeds.

The High Holy Days are not only about our sins - they are about our blessings. We have been given a marvellous world and we celebrate that on Rosh Hashanah. On Yom Kippur we think about how, in the year to come, we can enhance the sanctity of the many gifts we have been given.

--Rabbi Gersh Lazarow, Temple Beth Israel

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