Elul Reflection: 6 Elul 5779

Cycles of Inner reflection - Teshuvah

The main theme of the month of Elul is teshuvah, 'atonement or inner reflection.

Teshuvah can be understood in a few ways:

  • It is a practice of “soul accounting” or cheshbon ha-nefesh, where we think about the postivies and negatives in our lives. We think about the way we conduct our life, considering which things are going well and which need an overhaul. We do this for all aspects of our lives.
  • The word teshuvah comes from the root word – shav, "return". Doing teshuvah means returning to our authentic selves and connecting with the inner core of who we really are.
  • During Elul we are invited to reflect on the year that is about to end and consider our relationships with others, with our selves, with our environment and with God. During this month there is a hope for an improvement in these fields.

An important fact to know, is that teshuvah is part of everyday Jewish practice, not only the High Holiday period. There are prayers for Teshuvah in the traditional morning prayers and in the bedtime prayers where there is an opportunity to review the day and consider what went well and what can be improved.

Teshuvah once a week is often done on Friday afternoon, as a review of the week, in preparation for Shabbat.

A monthly teshuvah reflection is done at the end of each month, in preparation for a new month and a new beginning.

And now we are in the phase of reviewing the whole year in this month of Elul, before the New Year and Yom Kippur.

So, as we explore our teshuvah (“At-One-ment”) process in Elul, let’s also think about how we can incorporate a few minutes of teshuvah into our daily, weekly, and monthly practice in the year ahead.

Wishing you a reflective and enjoyable day,

-- Rabbi Dr. Orna Triguboff, Emanuel Synagogue, Woollahra

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