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13 Elul 5783

Rabbi Allison Conyer

Etz Chayim Progressive Synagogue, Bentleigh, VIC; Chair of ARC


How many of us have spilled wine, grape juice, or red pasta sauce on our white table cloth? It’s incredibly frustrating.  Some of us might pour salt or soda water on the stain to absorb the culprit. Some might apply a stain stick or put bleach along with the detergent. Some of us might go further and offer a hope or a prayer that the stain will come out.

What do all of these steps have in common?

Awareness, followed by intention, then action.

The process of teshuvah commences with awareness.  We must first see the stain. We must become aware of our wrongdoings, both intentional and unintentional. We cannot fix that which we do not see. Then, we must care about it, and actually want to fix it. We could choose to see the stain, but not feel compelled to remove it.  If we are bothered, then we have the intention to remove or repair that which we have done wrong. And finally, after becoming aware and having the intention to clean our stain, we must follow through and complete the action that removes (or helps to fade) the stain.

The month of Elul reminds us to clean our dirty laundry.

See more Elul Reflections